Home > The Man in the Black Suit(5)

The Man in the Black Suit(5)
Author: Sylvain Reynard


   Monsieur Breckman’s mouth turned up. “Really?”

   Acacia’s frown deepened.

   “I’m only teasing,” the man said gently.

   When Acacia’s frown didn’t abate, his smile faded.

   He moved to the bar. “May I offer you a drink?”

   Acacia blinked. “Thank you, but I’m on duty.”

   “Of course. I forgot.” He prepared another vodka and tonic for himself. “Did Monsieur Roy initiate any new protocols with respect to staff leaving the hotel after dark?”

   “No. He told us what happened to Marcel. We agreed to cooperate with the police investigation.”

   “He didn’t suggest anyone receive an escort?”

   “No.” She shifted her journal to her other hand. “You think we’re in danger?”

   The man looked at her via the mirror. “What do you think?”

   “I can’t imagine the kind of criminal who would attack a concierge.” She touched her lapel pins self-consciously. “We’re in the business of helping people.”

   The man turned around. “Do you take the Metro to and from the hotel?”

   “Not usually.”

   “You have a car?”

   “I drive a motorcycle.”

   “A motorcycle?” The dark slashes of his eyebrows lifted almost to his hairline.

   She smothered a smile. “Yes.”

   “I hope you wear a helmet. Paris drivers are mad.”

   “Yes, monsieur.” She adopted a serious tone. “I always wear a helmet.”

   His dark eyes met hers. “When you leave this evening, make sure one of the doormen escorts you to your motorcycle. Insist he remain with you until you’re safely away.”

   Acacia shifted her weight from foot to foot, surprised by the guest’s show of concern. “I will be more vigilant traveling to and from the hotel. But I should mention we are in a safe part of the city.”

   “The management’s lack of regard for their staff is truly staggering.” The man focused on his drink. “Unless…”

   When the guest didn’t continue, Acacia prompted him, “Monsieur?”

   He placed his drink on the bar and disappeared into the bedroom, leaving a bewildered Acacia behind.

   He returned from the bedroom a moment later, holding a distinctive red box, embossed in gold. He regarded it solemnly. “Today was not the best of days.”

   “I’m sorry, monsieur.”

   “Not as sorry as I am. I’m afraid I’ve been a fool, and it has caught up with me.” He sighed. “Can you be discreet?”

   “Absolutely. As a concierge, discretion is essential.”

   “Marcel made certain…arrangements, which must be undone.” He held the box out to her. “Can you return this to Cartier, in person?”

   “Yes.” She took the box and carefully schooled her reaction. She wondered if she was holding an engagement ring.

   She felt a twinge of compassion for the guest. She’d seen in his records that a female companion was supposed to have accompanied him. Perhaps his short temper was related to matters of the heart.

   She looked at Monsieur Breckman with new eyes. “Is there anything else I can do?”

   “There are other items.” He inclined his head toward the bedroom. “I need them returned.”

   “Of course. Should I remove them now?”

   He nodded.

   She walked past him into the bedroom and saw three large shopping bags sitting on the bed, bearing the logos of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and the lingerie designer Modiste.

   The guest had spent a great deal of money on lavish gifts and possibly an engagement ring, only to have to ask a stranger to return them. Acacia pressed her lips together to avoid making a comment. She doubted the guest would appreciate her sympathy.

   She gathered the bags with both hands, juggling the Cartier box and her journal, before she returned to the living room. “Will there be anything else?”

   “No.” He placed his hands in his pockets.

   “I hope you enjoy your evening at Guy Savoy’s. I should mention that his artichoke soup with black truffle is highly recommended.”

   Monsieur Breckman retrieved his drink from the bar. He turned and made eye contact. “Thank you.”

   “You’re welcome.” Acacia ventured a small smile before leaving.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

MODISTE WOULD NOT ACCEPT RETURNS of custom-made lingerie. Monsieur Breckman’s taste could not be faulted; he’d chosen a basque in pale blue satin, edged with sheer black lace, as well as two sets of brassieres and panties, in red and in black. The items were finely made and crafted for a tall, thin woman with small breasts.

   Monsieur Breckman was going to have to keep his lingerie. Acacia hoped he’d enjoy them.

   She returned everything else, including an enviable pair of diamond earrings from Cartier. At each of the boutiques she visited, she made a point of introducing herself to the manager, some of whom she’d met previously via telephone. Acacia’s success as a concierge was linked with her outlook: she approached her tasks not as toil but as opportunities, cultivating friendships and always being polite and professional.

   At the end of her shift, she changed into jeans, a leather jacket, and motorcycle boots. Yusuf, one of the doormen, was kind enough to walk her to her vehicle and wait until she departed. She was confident in her ability to take care of herself, but her confidence was wedded to wisdom. Having an escort could deter a potential attacker.

   It was summer in Paris. The weather was warm, and the sun was still shining as she sped down the tree-lined Avenue George V and turned right on the Champs-Élysées, moving in the opposite direction of the Arc de Triomphe. Acacia revved her motorcycle as she weaved in and out of traffic on the multi-lane avenue.

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