“Senators,” said Fawcett as he strode across the polished floor in his monogrammed Stubbs & Wooton opera slippers, “I’m so very pleased you could make it.”
The study was lined from floor to ceiling with beautiful leather bound books; most of them first editions. Velvet draperies were drawn tight against the windows, obscuring from view the frigid waters of Southern Wisconsin’s famed Lake Geneva. The industrialist’s eagerly awaited guests sat in two leather club chairs by the fire.
Senator Russell Rolander was the first to stand. “Donald, good to see you.” The Senator stuck out his beefy paw and pumped Fawcett’s hand. Rolander and Fawcett had been roommates together at the University of Illinois. The Senator had been a college football star and continued his notoriety through many years with the Chicago Bears before going into Illinois politics. Long known as one of Washington D.C.’s biggest power brokers, Rolander was a ranking member of the U.S. Senate, held a coveted position on the Appropriations Committee, and owned a weekend home down the road from Fawcett’s.
Slower to rise was New York Senator, David Snyder. Snyder shook Fawcett’s hand only after it had been offered. Described as a sneaky, little son-of-a-bitch by his adversaries, Snyder had scaled the rocky heights of the American political landscape by adhering to a simple mantra: do unto others before they do unto you. He was a master of dirty tricks, and there were few in Washington who had dared cross Snyder’s path. Those that had, hadn’t survived long politically. Snyder, a slight man of wiry build and soft features, was the mirror opposite of the large, rugged, blond-haired Rolander. However, what Senator David Snyder lacked in physical stature, he more than made up in brain power. That intelligence, coupled with a genius for strategy, had landed him an all but permanent spot on the Senate Intelligence Committee. There wasn’t a covert operation conducted in the last 7 years that didn’t somehow or other have Snyder’s fingerprints on it.
Fawcett, always the showman, picked up a remote from the inlaid Egyptian box upon his desk and pointed it at a wall of books to the right of the fireplace. The false wall slid back to reveal the entryway to a smaller room, about fifteen by fifteen feet. The white walls were decorated with rococo trim and were lined with more leather bound books. The entire space was permeated with the smell of honey. The wooden floor was covered by a large oriental rug. A small fireplace, trimmed in marble, stood in the southwest corner. It utilized the same chimney system as the fireplace in the large study, which helped keep this room a secret to outsiders. Several gilded mirrors hung upon the walls and reflected the room’s centerpiece, an enormous antique roll top desk. A plush couch, with handsomely carved legs, sat opposite the desk. Fawcett waved his guests into the adjoining room. Once all three were together, he tapped a button on his remote and the door slid shut behind them. With only minimal pressure from Fawcett’s fingertips, a set of faux book spines sprung forward from one of the bookshelves, revealing a set of crystal decanters.
“Brandy anyone?” said Fawcett as he removed a large snifter and a decanter filled with the amber colored liquor.
“I’ll take one,” replied Rolander.
“Scotch rocks, if you’ve got it,” said Snyder.
As Fawcett began pouring the drinks, he motioned for the men to take a seat on the couch. Rolander, very much at ease with himself, plopped right down onto the antique sofa. Snyder lingered, wandering around the small room for a few seconds pretending to admire the decor. The high-tech surveillance sweeper, disguised as a beeper on his hip, vibrated uncontrollably as he and Rolander were led down the long hallways of Fawcett’s palatial home towards the study. An adept student of security and surveillance systems, Snyder had noticed many of Fawcett’s obvious safety measures and had guessed at the ones he couldn’t see. No doubt Fawcett had the best money could buy. An extremely cautious man, Fawcett never left anything to chance. Snyder knew that much about him and that was one of the reasons he’d agreed to become this deeply involved.
Continue reading the Lions of Lucerne excerpt.