Home > The Man in the Black Suit(8)

The Man in the Black Suit(8)
Author: Sylvain Reynard


 

PIERRE BRECKMAN SAT on the exceptional terrace of his suite and stared at the brightly lit Eiffel Tower. He sipped vodka without tonic and wondered how all his plans had gone to hell.

   Silke had ended things in a very public manner. His blood pressure increased as he recalled the photographs of her and her new lover. She was beneath his contempt for such a narcissistic display, but he was still angry. She’d wounded his pride, although he was loath to admit it. It hadn’t been the first time.

   He strode to the edge of the terrace and leaned over the railing. He could hear Rick’s evening replacement step outside, simply to keep an eye on him.

   Then he thought of the tall, Brazilian woman with the striking hazel eyes. She’d stood in his suite and argued the virtues of Monet.

   There was an earnestness about her that piqued his interest. She was professional and honest, or so she appeared. Given the moral state of her colleagues, he had his suspicions.

   Pierre sipped his drink. Corruption could be enticed and drawn into the open with a few well-placed suggestions.

   As his anger retreated, he was conscious of the weakening effects of rage. It made one rash. It made one foolish. He’d vowed never to be those things again.

   The Eiffel Tower winked at him, beckoning him to visit her. To do so, he’d need a companion worthy of so beautiful and romantic a location.

   Sometimes it seemed as if he were surrounded by vipers. Nowhere was the kind of woman worthy of the Eiffel Tower.

   He turned his back on her and went inside.

 

 

Chapter Five

 

THE NEXT MORNING, Acacia visited her local dojo much earlier than usual so she would have time to search for Marcel’s journal.

   She kept secret the fact that she studied martial arts. Luc had known, of course. When they were together, her daily visits to the dojo had coincided with his time at the gym.

   Her mother had enrolled her in Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes as a child, in the hope it would enable her to defend herself. Indeed, the classes had proved successful. When she came to France, she switched to karate. Acacia prized the quiet confidence martial arts gave her as much as the strength it gave her body.

   She arrived at the hotel forty-five minutes before her shift and parked her motorcycle near one of the pedestrian entrances to the Victoire’s underground parking lot, which was across the street from the hotel.

   She took care to survey her surroundings before she switched off her bike. Avenue George V was always busy—cars parked here and there, traffic consistently moved down the street, and pedestrians dotted the sidewalks. She was cautious as she approached Marcel’s motorcycle, which was parked nearby.

   The Avenue ran through a neighborhood that housed luxury boutiques, including Hermès, Bulgari, Givenchy, and Saint Laurent. The street had two medians shaded by mature trees. Tall buildings lined both sides. Owing to the number of parked cars and vans, there were many places to hide.

   Other motorcycles flanked Marcel’s. Remnants of police tape could still be seen clinging to his bike, but the area had been swept clean.

   Acacia looked under the motorcycles and Vespas in search of his journal. She looked on the street, the sidewalk, and checked the gutters. She even peered into a nearby garbage bin. The journal was not to be found.

   It occurred to her as she scanned the area that there was something odd about the attacker’s choice of location, which was across the street from the hotel. Given the busyness of the street, the assault must have been seen. But no witnesses had come forward, with the exception of the person who’d stumbled upon Marcel’s bleeding body and called the police.

   Being a concierge was in some respects like being a detective. One had to solve problems, find things, and on occasion, locate people. Acacia wondered if Marcel had found something that put him at risk.

   She walked the short distance to the hotel’s service entrance and changed in the staff room, arranging her concierge pins with pride on her navy blue uniform. At the beginning of her shift, she sat behind the concierge desk and placed her journal next to the hotel’s laptop. She checked the day’s calendar and reached for her pen. It was gone.

   Thinking she’d knocked it to the floor, she pushed her chair back and looked under the desk. The pen sat on the floor to the right, underneath one of the desk drawers. She reached forward to retrieve it and as she withdrew, her hand brushed against the drawer.

   But instead of the solidity of wood, she touched something else. Puzzled, she felt along the bottom of the drawer. Someone had attached what seemed like a book to the underside.

   “I need the concierge.” An imperious voice sounded above her.

   Acacia sat up and pushed her chair closer to the desk. She smiled at a well-dressed, elderly woman. “Yes, madame.”

   Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Monsieur Breckman enter the lobby, dressed in another black suit and surrounded by a security detail that had swelled to six men.

   She wondered if he always wore black suits. She wondered if the Earth would cease moving on its axis if he wore, say, navy blue.

   He was headed toward the reservations desk. When he caught sight of her, he switched direction, as did his security detail, who trailed like a series of large, dark-suited ducklings after their mother.

   The elderly woman sniffed, as if Acacia’s momentary distraction was a waste of her valuable time.

   Acacia widened her smile and gestured to one of the chairs. “I am the concierge, madame. How may I help you?”

   The woman refused to make eye contact and adjusted her Chanel jacket. “I don’t want to speak with someone from Spain. I want a French concierge.”

   Acacia kept her smile firmly in place. “I’m from Brazil, but I live here in Paris. I would be happy to assist you.”

   “Go and find a French concierge.” The woman settled herself in one of the chairs, not bothering to look in Acacia’s direction.

   “Good morning, mademoiselle,” Monsieur Breckman addressed Acacia as he approached the desk. He looked down his nose at the elderly woman. “When you’re finished with the concierge, I need to speak with her.”

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