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The East Appointment Gate of the White House is located on East Executive Avenue between the Treasury Department and the East Lawn. The reinforced perimeter fence and cement bollards installed after the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut give this entry an air that is anything but welcoming.

Outside the gate, Gabrielle Ashe checked her watch, feeling a growing nervousness. It was 4:45 P.M . . . and still nobody had made contact.


Here I am, she thought. Where are you?

Gabrielle scanned the faces of the tourists milling about, waiting for someone to catch her eye. A few men looked her over and moved on. Gabrielle was beginning to wonder if this had been such a good idea. She sensed the Secret Serviceman in the sentry shack had his eye on her now. Gabrielle decided her informant had gotten cold feet. Gazing one last time through the heavy fence toward the White House, Gabrielle sighed and turned to go.

“Gabrielle Ashe?” the Secret Serviceman called out behind her.

Gabrielle wheeled, her heart catching in her throat. Yes?

The man in the guard shack waved her over. He was lean with a humorless face. “Your party is ready to see you now.” He unlocked the main gate and motioned for her to enter.

Gabrielle’s feet refused to move. “I’m coming inside?”

The guard nodded. “I was asked to apologize for keeping you waiting.”

Gabrielle looked at the open doorway and still could not move. What’s going on! This was not at all what she had expected.

“You are Gabrielle Ashe, are you not?” the guard demanded, looking impatient now.

“Yes, sir, but‑”

“Then I strongly suggest you follow me.”

Gabrielle’s feet jolted into motion. As she stepped tentatively over the threshold, the gate slammed shut behind her.