Home > The Man in the Black Suit(3)

The Man in the Black Suit(3)
Author: Sylvain Reynard


   Monsieur Roy’s features grew harried. “Did you explain that Marcel is in the hospital?”

   “No, monsieur. You instructed us not to answer uncomfortable questions about his whereabouts.”

   The manager sniffed. “Your discretion is appreciated, but nothing is more uncomfortable than upsetting a highly valued guest. You could have told him Marcel had an accident.”

   Acacia bit back a rude reply. “Yes, monsieur.”

   The manager straightened the red rose he wore pinned to his lapel. “I will speak to Monsieur Breckman. You will apologize and convince him you can provide the same level of service as Marcel. Be sure to ignore his scar.”

   She swallowed hard. Too late, she thought.

   Monsieur Roy drew himself up to his full height. “This is the second time you’ve had a conflict with a valued guest. I had high hopes for you, Acacia, but you won’t remain at the Victoire if this pattern continues.”

   The manager strutted away like a short, corpulent peacock, while Acacia tried very hard not to unleash her favorite Brazilian profanity.

 


   After he visited the penthouse, Monsieur Roy returned to the concierge desk and escorted Acacia upstairs. She felt as if she were a criminal awaiting sentence.

   Monsieur Breckman had reserved the penthouse suite, one of the finest rooms in the hotel. The suite featured a terrace that provided a three-hundred-sixty-degree view of Paris. At dusk, one could relax outside and gaze at the Eiffel Tower as it became illuminated.

   Monsieur Breckman’s bald and expansive bodyguard answered the door. In the distance, the guest could be heard in heated conversation. “We’ve lost our intermediary. Replace him or find another buyer. I’m not going to risk—”

   Without comment, the bodyguard closed the door in Monsieur Roy’s face.

   The manager passed a hand over his eyes. He took a deep breath and knocked again.

   A moment later, the bodyguard reopened the door. Monsieur Breckman stood next to him and looked down his nose in irritation. “Yes?”

   “Acacia wishes to speak with you.” The manager glanced at her out of the corner of his eye.

   Acacia gripped the leather-bound journal she held in her hand. “I apologize for not disclosing Marcel’s situation, monsieur.”

   The guest frowned. “His hospitalization is not a state secret.”

   Acacia’s chin lifted. “I didn’t wish to alarm you.”

   “Information about Marcel’s assault might be crucial to your guests’ safety. To my safety, mademoiselle.”

   “I apologize,” she repeated.

   The man regarded the much shorter manager with distaste. “What about you, Jacques? Why wasn’t my security detail advised that Marcel was assaulted mere steps from the hotel? I should have been notified before my arrival.”

   The manager appeared taken aback. He lifted his hands in a conciliatory gesture. “We want to be sure you have all the information you need. But as Acacia mentioned, we didn’t wish to alarm you.”

   “Of course not, that would be bad for business. I might have decided to stay at the Ritz instead.” Breckman gave the manager a shrewd look. “So you marched mademoiselle to my suite so she could apologize for your decision?”

   “Monsieur,” Acacia intervened. “Now that you know about Marcel’s situation, I hope you’ll allow me to assist you during your stay.”

   The guest peered down at her.

   “You have courage.” He turned and glared at the manager. “More so than you.”

   The manager began to sputter, but Monsieur Breckman interrupted him by nodding at Acacia. “You have my attention, mademoiselle.”

   “I was educated at the Sorbonne and speak six languages. I have contacts all over the city and pride myself on opening doors for our guests. As I mentioned downstairs, I am a member of Les Clefs d’Or.”

   Immediately, the man’s expression grew less severe. “The Sorbonne?”

   “Yes, monsieur.” Acacia resisted the temptation to glance at his scar.

   The guest looked at her intently. “There may be something you can assist me with.”

   “Excellent.” The manager extended his hand to the guest and they shook. “Welcome back to Hotel Victoire.”

   The manager gave Acacia a pointed look and waddled off down the corridor.

   Monsieur Breckman stood next to his massive bodyguard. Neither made any move to invite her in or to dismiss her.

   “How may I assist you?” Acacia asked.

   The man addressed his bodyguard in English, with an Oxbridge accent. “It’s all right, Rick. I doubt mademoiselle is a threat.”

   Rick opened the door more widely and allowed Acacia to enter. After he closed it, he stood to the side, between her and his employer.

   The employer turned abruptly and walked down the hall.

   Acacia’s eyes followed him. His unhurried pace and squared shoulders spoke of confidence and control. When he disappeared from sight, she refocused her attention on the bodyguard.

   Rick offered little in the way of acknowledgment, apart from a blank stare. Acacia placed her hand on the doorknob, intent on escape.

   “Rick, escort Mademoiselle Santos to the living room.” Monsieur Breckman’s voice carried down the hall.

   Acacia startled, surprised the guest knew her surname. Monsieur Roy certainly hadn’t used it.

   Rick jerked his chin in the direction his employer had gone.

   She walked toward the living room, feeling anxious. She had no idea what the guest would say or do next.

   The penthouse living room was elegantly decorated in gold brocade and pale blue, with ivory silk window hangings and stately furniture. Large arrangements of fresh cut flowers had been placed artfully in various locations and impressive art volumes were stacked imperiously on the table in front of the sofa.

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