06 August 2008

Unholy Crusade, part three

Chapter Two


Jeremy Pellier poured himself a double whisky, downed it in one, and poured himself another. His hands were shaking, the bottle clinked against the glass. He needed to pull himself together and the alcohol was not helping. It should, it always used to, but it was not.

How could this have happened? he asked himself.

Lights glided across the bar. Outside, gravel crunched beneath heavy wheels. An engine ticked over, then turned off.

He downed the whisky, pushed himself away from the counter and headed over to one of the plush leather chairs beside the fire. Better they found him looking relaxed than cowering over a bottle.

Low voices murmured at the door. He could not hear what they were saying. The front door closed. A moment later there was a knock on the study door.

'Enter!' he called. He hoped his voice was steady.

Dupont entered, flanked by two men in grey suits. Jeremy stood up, smiled a warm smile.

'Monsieur Dupont,' said Jeremy. 'How nice to see you again.'

'I wish I could say the same,' said Dupont. His thick Parisian accent made his words difficult to understand. 'I assume you know why I am here.'

Dupont walked over to one of the leather chairs and sat down. Lost for words, Jeremy sat down also.

'Now,' said Dupont, fixing Jeremy with a stare that bore through him. 'Explain to me exactly what happened tonight.'

Jeremy sat forward, resting his elbows on his thighs. 'Why don't you tell me.'

'Tell you what, Mister Pellier?'

'Oh, I don't know. How about why you sold us out?'

Dupont's associates shifted marginally closer to their boss. Dupont raised a black-gloved hand. The men backed off again.

'I did no such thing,' said Dupont.

'They knew we were coming!' Jeremy shouted. 'I was lucky to get out of there with my skin.'

'This was not my doing.'

'Then who's was it? Nobody else knew about this meet.'

'Mister Pellier, my associates and I are not in the business of selling out those we are trying to make a deal with. It is not good for business. If there was a problem with security, it came from your side, not ours.'

'All my men were totally trustworthy.'

'Were you followed?'

'Of course not! I'm not a fucking amateur.'

'Then I suggest either you pay closer attention to those you associate with, or you get stronger security. Either way, you have a mole; or a spy.'

Dupont stood up. 'Either way, our business here is concluded. Good evening, Mister Pellier.'

As the men walked to the door Jeremy leapt to his feet. 'Now just a fucking minute!'

Dupont turned around slowly. 'There is nothing more to discuss.'

'I'm out two million on this fucking deal. I lost good men tonight, loyal men, and more product than I care to think about right now.'

'That is your concern, Mister Pellier, not mine.'

Dupont walked out, his guards blocking the door so Jeremy could not follow.

'This isn't over!' Jeremy shouted. 'You fucking hear me, you French bastard!'

He stood at the window and watched Dupont's car drive away, then pulled the telephone from his pocket and called Reggie Dixon.

'Pellie, my son,' said Reggie. 'Tell me you've got good news.'

'Sorry, boss. The frog didn't want to hear any of it. Said it was our fault the deal went south, then left.'

'He's an arrogant prick but he'll learn some manners pretty sharpish when I'm through with him.'

'What do you want me to do, boss? He said we've got a Wally.'

'You'll do nothing, sunshine. That little prick's trouble now he's in with that kraut, Allemand. Just get back here tout sweet.'

Reggie hung up. Jeremy slipped the telephone back into his jacket and went to pour himself another drink.

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