Without a Traitor Chapter 1

Tel Aviv, Israel

Natasha Kelly gazed at the tall glass and steel building that resembled any other office complex in Tel Aviv and sighed deeply. Looks could be deceiving. Inside, she would find the headquarters of Mossad and Director Zeir Ravin. Judah’s lion. Head of Mossad. The man who held her future as a spy in his hands.

“Ugh,” she muttered as she unbuckled her seat belt.

“You don’t have to do this alone.” Dirk Sloan reached for her hand. “When two become one, they face every challenge together.”

“We aren’t married yet. Besides, I can’t take you to work with me. Knowing that you’ll be praying…I can do this. I just don’t want to.”

“Then, why?”

Natasha turned to study his perfectly chiseled features. Such a movie star, even in repose. Those exceptionally white teeth, lips that turned up in the softest smile just for her, and those electric blue eyes. He might be born to light up the screen, but he cared more about her. She forced her thoughts back to the matter at hand.

“I have to understand why I do this. I mean, I realize that I joined the Mossad to protect the interests of Israel. What if my conscience won’t let me wage war the way Ravin wants me to? Anyway, he and I need to clear the air.”

“As I’ve told you multiple times, you don’t have to be a spy any longer. I can support us. But, Natasha, do what’s in your heart…whatever God speaks to you. I’m behind you.” He leaned in close and settled a warm kiss on her lips. “I love you, darling.”

“Love you, too.”

She climbed out of the rental car and strode to the door. After one last glance at Dirk and a small wave, she entered the lair of the lion.

Walking across the foyer brought back memories of her first visit, how she felt when she sighted the blue tiled circle on the floor: a menorah surrounded by the Hebrew words, “Without guidance do a people fall, and deliverance is in a multitude of counsellors.” Proverbs XI/14

Once again she sensed the purpose that strengthened her resolve to participate in the continued existence of Israel. It welled up now in her spirit. Father, direct my steps.

Her steps took her to the sixth floor office of Director Ravin. His right-hand man, Dosier, glanced up with a brief smile when she opened the door then turned back to a stack of papers on his desk. He might not be large, but Natasha knew he was deceptively strong…and never aged. He’d probably still look forty when he was sixty.

“He’ll be with you in a moment, Miss Kelly.”

Noting that he did nothing to alert Ravin to her presence reinforced Natasha’s supposition that Dosier monitored surveillance of the building’s lobby. They knew who entered and exited the lion’s lair, like a spider with a web.

A buzzer on the desk sounded, and Dosier glanced her way. “You can go in.”

Natasha nodded, shoved back her trailing blond hair, and made her way to the door, her heart beating slightly faster with each step. She flung back the door.

“Natasha Kelly, please come in.” Director Ravin stood behind his desk, but he smoothed his dark suit and walked around her to point at a chair. “Join me.”

Though he spoke in English, his accent bore traces of his native Hebrew tongue. He was an accomplished man. How many languages did he know?

Natasha sat and folded her hands in her lap. He’d never before come out from behind his desk. Those broad shoulders made him appear so solid, so imposing. Not even his shining white hair indicated weakness. Was she supposed to speak first? Explain what prompted her request for an audience?

“What can I do for you, Miss Kelly?”

“I wanted to talk about that last mission.”

“I read the report. Did you leave something out?”

She shook her head. “No, sir. It was more…something I’ve been thinking.”

“Yes?”

Why was she dragging it out? His time was precious. If she didn’t speak, he’d throw her out.

“I can’t steal.”

Natasha sat, frozen in place. Had she just blurted that out? Surely the Mossad had trained her better. She knew how to keep her mouth shut in the most difficult situations. Apparently, not with the Director.

“I see. And this would be in connection with the artifact from the Ethiopian museum? The one that has already been stolen. Do you have a problem retrieving the shofar?”

“Director, I mean that as much as I want to do everything in my power to recoup items that were stolen from Israel, I can’t waltz into some country as poor as Ethiopia and steal what they consider their national heritage. They’re proud of their connection to Israel.”

“According to your report, the terrorist Yaakov stole the shofar from the museum. Are you saying this is inaccurate?”

Her eyes met his. His expression hadn’t changed one iota since she stepped in the room.

“No, sir. I’m just anticipating the future. I realize that sometimes an agent is expected to acquire sensitive material.”

“You refuse to do this?”

“Oh, no, sir. It would be more along the lines of what needed to be acquired. I’m really not the thief type. It’s a conscience thing. What would happen if every country in the world decided to re-take anything that had something to do with their heritage? The world is like a vast sharing ground. I don’t know that any individual country should own everything that pertains to them. If Great Britain wanted back everything uniquely British, the US would lose a substantial chunk of its heritage.” She shook her head. “I’m not making any sense.”

“Then try again.”

She searched his lined face, still unreadable, but he was listening.

“I don’t know. I’m completely in support of Israel’s right to exist and what we have to do to ensure that. I’m just not sure I could break in a museum and steal something that has nothing to do with the security of Israel.”

“In other words, you don’t trust me to know when a mission is vital to that security. There are some things you will never know. A soldier must trust.”

“That’s not it at all. I…I absolutely trust you to do what you think is vital for Israel. I’m not sure our definitions of vital are the same, but you’re right. I can’t know everything behind the scenes.”

“Which brings us back to your faith in me as a leader. I assure you, I know your loyalties, your religious persuasion, and how that affects your decisions. At some point in your career with the Mossad, you will have to trust that I keep those things in mind when I send you out.” He took a deep breath and stared straight at her. “It is time for you to gain perspective. As of now, you are relieved of your duties. Leave your identification and your gun with Dosier. By the way, have you taken the time to finish your studies of the Dead Sea scrolls?”

Natasha blinked as her mind reeled at his words. Had she just been fired? Was he serious? Of course, he was. He never joked, and now his dark eyes continued to stare at her. What had he asked?

“Um…no sir. I didn’t get to that.”

“I recommend the Copper Scroll. It would require a visit to Jordan if you care to see it up close, or you could just obtain a copy for study. You’ll find several noted enthusiasts have published multiple translations. A fascinating story.” He glanced at his watch. “I’m afraid that is all the time I have today.”

Natasha stood. She was being dismissed. Perhaps if she asked for her job back, he would reconsider. She studied his face. No. The matter was settled.

“Thank you, Director, for your time. I…hope to hear from you soon.”

Finally, he smiled. “A pleasure, Miss Kelly.”

Natasha walked out the door on legs that felt numb. Her entire body had gone numb. She felt bereft. Lost. Rejected. In a daze, she handed her Beretta and her badge to Dosier. He accepted both without a word then nodded.

“Shalom, Miss Kelly.”

Shalom? She had no peace. “Shalom.”

She took the stairs to avoid seeing anyone. She needed to think, even if it meant five flights. The ache of unshed tears burned behind her eyes, but she refused to succumb. By the time she attained the ground floor, she was nowhere nearer a solution. This had far-reaching ripples. She’d given over her courier business to her brother Katir and his new wife Tennia. Without the Mossad, she had no means of financial support. Thankfully, she had a savings account. And Dirk. He wanted to take care of her, wanted her to finish wedding plans. It looked like she now had all the time in the world.

She busted out the front doors into bright sunlight and made her way to the car. Who was she without the Mossad? Her place in their ranks had become an identity, a shared purpose. And, now? She was God’s. She was Dirk’s. Father, show me the way. I think I just messed up. Is this what you wanted? She wrenched open the car door and sat without looking at Dirk.

“Natasha?” He reached for her hand. When she didn’t respond, he pulled her against his side and wrapped an arm around her. “What is it, luv?”

“He fired me. I no longer work for the Mossad.”

“What!”

“Yes. Took my gun and my badge. I no longer have Mossad ID.”

Dirk reached for the door handle. “I’ll go speak with him.”

“Dirk, imagine how that would look. He’s the head of a spy agency, and you’re going to fight my battle for me?”

“You’re right. Tell me everything you said.”

Natasha related the conversation then closed her eyes. “I blew it. I said all the wrong things.”

“Darling, we prayed about this. Remember, God sees more than we do. Something is happening behind the scenes. Something always is.” He pulled her even closer and squeezed. “How can I make this better?”

“No one can make this better. I have to think about it.” She twisted to look up at him and tried to smile. “At least nothing will get in the way of the wedding.”

“Or the honeymoon.” He bent to kiss her then leaned his forehead against hers. “I love you, you know. We’ll get through this. Give it time. Perhaps this is God’s way of protecting the beginning of our marriage. No outside distractions.”

“Maybe…unless you go on some secret mission or off to film some movie.”

“That’s not going to happen. I’ll take a leave of absence from MI6, so, no spying and no movies.”

She offered him a weak smile as one tear glided down her cheek. “I’m so thankful for you. Let’s go home.” She bolted up in her seat. “We don’t have a home! Where are we going to live after we get married? You can’t live with me in Houston.”

“We’ll figure it out.”

 

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Two days later Natasha reclined on a yellow lounge chair in her backyard on the cedar deck her brother had built. The heavy scent of honeysuckle tickled her nose. The early morning sun still felt comforting, but over the next hour, the heat index would rise significantly.

She closed her eyes and leaned back. If she’d never gone in to see Ravin, she’d still have a job. She could be in Israel right now, enjoying dry air instead of Texas humidity. Why had she opened her big mouth? Did she have to sound off to one of the most dangerous men in Israel? As if her moralizing conscience were more significant than his. Oh, God, is that what I did? Is my pride getting in the way of my witness? Cleanse my heart. Heal any wounds I may have caused and repair the relationship.

What if that wasn’t it at all? Surely she’d heard from the Lord about what he expected from her. What if Ravin fired her because she hadn’t prevented Jadon’s assassination? The only reason Jadon had been out and about in public in Jerusalem was to support Natasha. With a price on his head, she should never have let him accompany her and Renee. But Dirk’s sister had been keenly taken with Jadon.

Natasha sighed. She kept going round and round in circles. How many rabbit trails would she let the enemy of her soul take her down? I’m sorry, Lord. Take every thought captive. I know I hear from you, but even if I blew it, I choose to trust that you make the crooked places straight. Direct my paths and make me completely yours.

She opened her eyes to find Dirk kneeling at her side and jerked in surprise. “Oh, I didn’t hear you.”

“Which is alarming.” He leaned in to kiss her, and the invigorating scent of his aftershave awakened her senses. “Good morning, luv. What has your thoughts so captive that you hear nothing around you? If I’d been a terrorist…”

“I know. I was praying…after a session of unhealthy introspection.”

“Ah. Down the rabbit trail again. Which path now?”

“Did Ravin fire me because of what I said, or did he intend that all along because I got Jadon killed?”

“Are you sure you don’t feel guilty and are simply projecting that on Ravin? Darling, you didn’t get Jadon killed. If anything, his involvement with you and Renee was my fault. But really, Jadon wanted to spend time with friends. That was his choice, not your fault. Ravin knows better than to blame you. Essentially, you’re saying that Jadon wasn’t capable of making rational, intelligent decisions without your help.”

“I never thought of that. There’s my pride again, thinking the whole world revolves around what I say or do.”

Dirk chuckled. “I didn’t say that. Let’s change the subject before I get myself in trouble. How about…wedding plans? Tell me everything until my eyes glaze over with utter boredom.”

“You nut.” She punched his arm. “I already showed you everything I like. When are you going to tell me where we’re getting married?”

“Top secret information. You wanted a surprise wedding, you’re getting one. Now, show me pictures of what you like…again.”

Natasha reached for the stack of bridal magazines on the cedar bench beside her, and they spent the next half hour making plans.

Finally, Dirk stretched and took a deep breath. “I’m seeing a lot of green. I take it that is the color of choice.”

“Yes. How has it taken me over a year to decide?”

“Distractions. I sometimes think you didn’t want to get married because you were too involved with Mossad. It doesn’t matter now. In three weeks’ time, we’ll be man and wife. I can’t wait.”

When he nibbled the soft spot on her neck just under her ear, Natasha sighed. “That drives me crazy, you know.”

“I certainly do.” He raised his head and pulled her close to his side. “I’m so ready for the next three weeks to go by.”

Natasha laughed. “Me, too. I think I’ll go in and get some lemonade. Want anything?”

“Tea, if you don’t mind.”

“Hot or cold?”

“Iced. I think I’m growing accustomed to your American ways.”

“The two become one.”

Dirk continued to smile as Natasha slid the glass doors shut behind her, then he grabbed his phone and dialed. The voice he anticipated sounded in his ear after the second ring.

“Oh, great and mighty Sloan, what can I do for you?”

“Hello, Cue. Have you put those super analyzing skills of yours to work on that little problem?”

“Deciphering the Dead Sea Copper Scroll isn’t a little problem, mate. It’s written in an extremely ancient form of Hebrew that not even the Israelis know how to crack.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a square form script with linguistic much like pre-Mishnaic Hebrew and Aramaic, with some terms that can only be comprehended through a study of Arabic and Akkadian…quite unlike other texts of the time.”

“You might as well be speaking Latin. It isn’t like the other Dead Sea scrolls?”

“It isn’t like anything from that era, Qumran or elsewhere.”

“Like how, Cue. Be specific.”

“The Hebrew paleography, the style of the script, even the orthography, the uh, spelling, in the Copper Scroll isn’t usual. In fact, there isn’t a database for it. I’ve had to go old school, with books, you know.”

Dirk sighed. “Keep me informed. Any relation between the missing shofar and the Copper Scroll? Ravin had to have a reason for bringing it up. I can’t see him firing Natasha, unless he wanted her to go after something the Israeli government isn’t supposed to be interested in…”

“Rather sneaky of him. I haven’t found anything yet.”

“We’re talking about Ravin. If she’s been fired, he can disavow any knowledge of her actions.”

“Goes both ways, you know. He might be protecting her from something he’s about to do.”

“I’ve thought of that. I just hope Natasha hasn’t. She’ll want to rush back and help.”

“And you want to get married.”

“In two words? I do. I can better take care of her, because she’s never going to stop being involved with Israel. To be part of her life is to fight Israel’s battles.”

“Don’t forget whose side you’re on. For Queen and country, old man.”

“There can be a balance, especially if I stay under the employ of Trinity Pictures. We can work for the CIA, MI6, and the Mossad. Everyone’s happy.”

“Particularly your future wife.”

“Exactly.”

At the first sound of Natasha at the sliding door, Dirk dropped his phone in his shirt pocket. He’d promised not to keep any more secrets from her, but this was one surprise he hoped she’d like. Probably the most significant wedding present he had for her…the solution to the significance of that stolen shofar. Why did the terrorist Yaakov want it? What connection did it have to the Lamp of Jerusalem? Did the Copper Scroll have some bearing on the whole thing?

Natasha set a glass of iced tea before Dirk then joined him on the chair. He reached for her free hand. “So, my love, what shall we do today?”

“How long can you stay in the States? Do you have business you need to tie up before the wedding?”

“I can stay three more days before I have to accomplish a few tasks.”

She turned wide eyes to his. “You aren’t going on some mission that might get you lost for weeks, are you?”

“I promise.” He held up a hand. “I’ll only be involved with routine matters for the Queen.”

“That sounds important.”

“Not at all. The Queen thinks walking her corgis is important.”

Natasha laughed, which was Dirk’s aim.

“All right, smart guy, but Dirk…”

“Yes, darling?”

“I know you’re hiding something. I saw you ditch that phone when you heard me coming, and it better have something to do with our surprise wedding.”

“Yes, darling.”

Natasha laughed again. “Now, I know you’re up to something. You’re never that compliant.”

“All is well, luv.” Dirk bent to drop a kiss on her forehead. And if it wasn’t, it soon would be, if he had anything to do with it.

Three days later, Natasha watched as Dirk Sloan, mega-movie star to the world, donned dark Ray-Bans and a black jacket. After he passed through the metal detector at airport security, he turned for a final salute then disappeared.

Once he reached England, he’d call her, but for all intents and purposes, she was on her own until the wedding. The whereabouts of which she still hadn’t discovered. She grinned as she stepped on the down escalator. Guessing about wedding details had become a refreshing distraction. If Dirk wasn’t so expert at that bland spy visage of his, she’d have learned a whole lot more. As matters stood, she knew to pack for balmy weather. They could be headed anywhere, not even her family members would tell her Dirk’s plans.

Surely, her brother Katir knew. If Katir knew, so did Tennia. For that matter, assuredly David Benjamin and Anya knew. David was Dirk’s best man. She could easily call Anya and David to pump them for information, but that would mean discussing her recent dismissal from Mossad. Did David know he was no longer her Mossad handler? He hadn’t called. Natasha felt a fair measure of embarrassment. Pride, again. I know, Lord. I’m working on it.

Now that her time was her own, she had three options: Work at the shipping warehouse with Katir, call David and see if he’d heard anything from Ravin, or continue her last mission to retrieve the stolen lamp and shofar.

Ravin had mentioned the Copper Scroll. From the haze that was her memory of that distressing moment, she recalled a recommendation of visiting Jordan for an up-close appointment at the Jordan Museum of Amman. Not only would it be unsafe for her to venture anywhere that Yaakov might pop up, but traveling somewhere without Dirk’s knowledge at a time like this would deeply upset him. She still had a price on her head. With the ease Yaakov had assassinated Jadon, he’d now feel empowered to kill Natasha. Yes, a decision to fly to Jordan would require a great deal of prayer.

Showing up at the warehouse didn’t sit well either. Tennia would want to discuss wedding plans, Katir would want to know why she wasn’t working with the Mossad, and Natasha didn’t particularly feel like heaving crates from one pallet to another. Nor did she wish to discuss her current employment status with David. That only left research on the lamp, or if Ravin was offering a hint, on the Copper Scroll. Perhaps Natasha should lay out all the facts she’d obtained about the lamp and shofar then investigate the scroll. Then again, this would be her last opportunity to spend time with her family before the wedding. Lord, why am I so ambivalent?

When Natasha walked inside the warehouse of Kelly’s Couriers and Shipping Service, Katir glanced up from a wooden shipping crate. “Hey, stranger. Don’t tell me you missed all this sawdust.”

“Nope, just thought I’d hang out while Dirk is in London. Is Tawny here?”

“In the office. You know how I love paperwork.”

Natasha spluttered in laughter. “Uh huh, right.”

She turned toward the office, but Katir’s voice called out. “Hey, sis!” When she looked his way, he offered her a cocky grin. “I’ve missed you, and you know you’ve missed this.” He flexed his biceps, and the dark skin rippled.

“When I’ve got these?” Natasha held up her arm to show off. “Keep tryin’.”

As Natasha ducked in the office doorway, Tennia stood. “I thought that was you out there. Why in the world was Katir pumping his muscles?”

“My brother loves to show off. He’s such a man.”

“Thank God for that.”

Natasha wrapped her arms around Tennia’s slender frame. “I have so missed that lilting accent of yours…and your beautiful sweet self.”

Natasha leaned back to study Tennia. Her dark brown eyes were lit in welcome, and her smiling face might be a little fuller than the last time Natasha had seen her.

“Are you…you are! Tawny, you’re pregnant!”

Tennia nodded, self-consciously running a hand over her mid-riff. “It shows?”

“Not at all. You’re still model-thin. Did you tell Mom and Dad?”

“You’re the first. We only found out yesterday. We were going over there tonight. Want to go?”

“I don’t want to butt in.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. When is family ever butting in? Besides, you’re my best friend.”

“All right. I’ll tag along. They’ll be so excited to have another grandbaby.”

“You really think so? My skin is so dark. The baby…”

“Tennia Kelly, how dare you think that? My parents have been color-blind since before I was born.”

“But others…”

“Don’t matter one iota, and if they dared to make such a comment around Katir or my parents, they’d get shown the door.”

Tennia nodded then sat back on the office chair. “Growing up…did you ever experience prejudice…like with your friends in school?”

“I never kept friends that made comments about Katir being black. I’ve always thought there was a bigger heart issue at stake when people are prejudiced. Anyway, when are you due?”

“Still eight months, I guess. I haven’t been to the doctor. Do you have time to sit?”

Natasha perched in the chair across from Tennia, and they caught up on news until Tennia’s phone beeped with a text. She glanced down and chuckled as she tapped keys.

“Is that Mom?”

“Dirk. He thought you might come here.”

“And why is that stinker texting you instead of me? Wedding secrets, huh?”

“I’ll never tell.” Tennia grinned as she sent another message. “It’s so romantic to have a man plan a surprise.”

“It’s driving me wild. There are so many places he might think are special…Israel, London, here.”

When Tennia smiled but remained silent, Natasha threw up her hands. “And you’re not going to tell me. Fine. Pass me the newspaper, and you can go back to your paperwork. That’s one thing I don’t miss.”

Natasha flipped through the pages of the Houston Chronicle, hardly noting anything of worth. Then she froze. Without realizing it, she’d been scanning the personal ads. One, in particular, stood out.

Attention Little One~

My thoughts and prayers are always with you.

Love, the Great Pretender

Tears welled in her eyes, and she reached to the desk for a tissue.

“What’s wrong?” Tennia asked. “Has something happened?”

“Just Dirk, being wonderful. He knows I haven’t gotten over Jadon’s death, so he sent me an ad in the personals. I used to look for one every day to see if Jadon and his grandfather’s family were all right. Well…I guess I still look.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“It’s all talked out. Grieving just takes time.”

“Particularly when you watch the person die. I’m here, if you need me.”

The rest of the morning passed quickly enough, and then she accompanied Katir and Tennia to visit her parents. The big announcement went over very well. They even put in a call to Natasha’s sister, Elaine. Natasha managed to make it through most of the day without obsessing over her current predicament with Mossad.

Once she reached home and activated the security field, she made her way upstairs to the spare bathroom. After a few tugs, she unscrewed the faucet on the tub and pulled out a small, round, milky-colored stone, flat, like a coin. She ran her finger across the emblem, wondering, not for the first time, if it signified something important. She pocketed the coin then re-installed the tub faucet. She also needed her notes on the mission. How sweet of Cue to encrypt them all on that tiny flash drive.

She tread quickly downstairs to the kitchen and opened her gadget drawer, everything from a tea steep to a cheese grater…and one flash drive that resembled a vegetable peeler. Time for the great reveal.

Cue had downloaded multiple documents and photos pertaining to the case. Some included information Natasha didn’t even understand. It certainly helped to have the techno guy from MI6 as one of Dirk’s buddies. Cue was a genius, but he wouldn’t have given her the data if she couldn’t utilize it. She just needed to separate it and concentrate. She hit print then ran upstairs to her office.

After Natasha had everything spread out on her sunny kitchen table, she stepped back. During her last mission, there had been ideas that niggled in the recesses of her brain, things she’d cast aside as she focused on staying alive. This would be the ideal moment to write them down and see if they fit together. She settled in a chair and picked up the pen.

  1. The secret name in the box she’d received from Lwan.
    Where did the leader of the Lemba get the name? Did a tribe of African Jews really have knowledge of the whereabouts of one of Solomon’s hidden treasures? That brought her thoughts back to Director Ravin. He never said anything without a reason. She put her pen to the paper.
  2. Ravin said to read the Copper Scroll.
    Natasha sat up straight and stared, unseeing, out her bay window. What if the name Lwan gave her was the same as one of those on the scroll? She had to obtain a copy. But first, she pulled the stone coin out of her pocket and held it aloft. The emblem matched that on the side of the shofar that Yaakov had stolen from the Ethiopian museum. Therefore, the emblem meant something. Perhaps that, too, would be on the scroll. She added it to the list.
  3. symbol from coin
  4. shofar

 

There, all the things that seemed like clues. They could be flights of fancy or the answer to her current predicament. She could easily confirm or discount the value of the Copper Scroll by reading a translation posted on the internet.

Twenty minutes later, Natasha’s stomach lurched, and she shifted in her seat. Had she found the corroboration she sought? According to one article, in 2013, a certain Dr. Eilat Mazar had unearthed a major discovery near the Temple Mount’s southern wall. Her project, called Ophel, had located thirty-six gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a 10-cm gold medallion with the etchings of a menorah, a shofar, and a Torah scroll. The medallion was thought to be an ornament for a Torah scroll.

Natasha took a deep breath as she stared at her computer screen. What in the world had she stumbled upon? Dr. Mazar’s findings validated all Natasha’s clues: the shofar, the menorah etched on the side of the stone coin in her pocket, and a scroll. How in the world had Ravin known to point her toward the scroll? Was the stone coin an ancient facsimile of a scroll ornament like the medallion located by Dr. Mazar? It had to be. The coin fit perfectly in the side of the shofar, and both carried the etching of the menorah.

Natasha only had one more item to verify, the name on the slip of paper. Perhaps it wasn’t a person at all, but a place listed on the copper scroll. If that were true, she might have all the clues she needed. If she completed her original mission, would Ravin re-instate her?

The sudden prompting of the Holy Spirit brought Natasha up short. What if God no longer wanted her to pursue a career in the Mossad? Finding lost relics was one thing, returning to the Mossad another. All right, Lord. Since it seems you’re directing my paths on this treasure hunt, I’ll continue the quest, but I’m waiting on you to tell me what to do about the Mossad. I really mean it. I’ll do exactly what you say.

As peace descended, Natasha picked up a manila folder. Before she could continue her research, she needed to review the file on her original mission. Director Ravin had asked her to fly to Africa to meet with the Lemba because they wished to return a lamp to Israel, purported to be the Lamp of Jerusalem.

She read the related Scripture in her notes. I Kings 15:4, “Nevertheless for David’s sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem…” So, the lamp signified the perpetual reign of the house of David.

When the Israelites went into exile, the lamp was stolen from the tabernacle in Jerusalem, along with all the temple treasures. Supposedly, all the articles were returned to the Jews when they travelled back to inhabit the land and rebuild Jerusalem. When the Jews were attacked, the Lemba hid the lamp. According to Director Ravin, that’s how the lamp ended up in Ethiopia, and eventually, even deeper in Africa. But, why had Yaakov stolen the lamp? What could a terrorist do with an ancient lamp? Or, for that matter, with the shofar? He didn’t have the coin clue, so he couldn’t know it all fit together. Could he?

Natasha shook her head. Discovering Yaakov’s intentions were beyond her. She had no choice but to focus on finding the lamp and the shofar, which meant she’d have to find Yaakov, the terrorist bent on killing her. If she accomplished that, she might be able to discern his purpose through the name she’d found in Lwan’s box. She returned to her perusal of the scroll’s translation.

After reading it through twice, Natasha still didn’t understand how the clues worked together. She was in good company. Not one of the so-called experts agreed on the interpretation of the Copper Scroll. One compelling argument suggested that Qumran itself was the hiding place of certain treasures and that the Qumran community had been patterned after the structure of Jerusalem.

She shoved aside her laptop. The scroll was getting her nowhere. Neither were her clues. Lord, what am I missing?

Yaakov. Everything boiled down to the terrorist. He’d taken the lamp, the shofar, and he’d threatened her life. If she ever wanted to be free of that danger, she needed to find Yaakov and put an end to all this.

Natasha neatly stacked her evidence and carried it to her wall safe. After nestling it inside, she slid out something more sinister. Who needed a Mossad Beretta when one had a Glock? Because she was an international courier, she had a permit to transport a gun. She also reached for something she hadn’t had to use for a while, her dart pen. With the new and improved cartridges provided by the Mossad, she could inject someone and knock them out before they had time to draw their gun.

Years ago, when she first went looking for that missing shipment of diamonds, she’d had neither the knowledge nor sanction of Mossad. Now, she was even better trained to protect herself. This was one mission she could accomplish on her own.

While she packed her bag, she arranged her cover story in her mind. She was conducting routine courier service and participating in a little tour while she had the opportunity to visit a foreign land.

Should she head to where Yaakov usually went to ground or should she anticipate where he might want to go with the lamp and the shofar? Where, Lord?

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