“Your Mr. Cowley insists that there are those who do not want this contract signed, and so we are here together.” The middle-aged businessman stood in the center of the living area of his extremely expensive hotel suite and gave a Gallic shrug commensurate with his accent. “I think this is a waste of your time and your government’s resources, but it is their money. I’m afraid it will be rather a long, boring weekend for the four of us.”
Doyle and Bodie looked at each other, puzzled by that last statement. Bodie raised an eyebrow in inquiry. Ray just shook his head at his partner and turned back to their current babysitting job to ask, “The four of us, Mr. Lambert?”
“Had I known I would be dealing with this sort of security, I would not have brought my daughter along. But I had promised her a visit to her mother’s country, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. By the time I found out we were to be… sequestered like this, we were already in England.”
He turned away from the two agents to the wall of windows at the far end of the room offering a high-rise view of the lights of the city winking on as the sun set. “Sam, quit sulking in the corner and come meet Mr. Bodie and Mr. Doyle.”
The two agents looked at each other again and silently mouthed, “Sam?” in unison. Bodie actually rolled his eyes. Leaning towards Ray he whispered, “Eight, and a terror.”
Leaning in to hear, Ray muttered back, “Fourteen, bookish, and spotty.”
“Everyone knows the French turn back spots at the border. You’re on, mate.”
A slim figure detached itself from the edge of the shadows that indicated the drapes at the left side of the windows and walked silently toward the three men. As the warm lamplight hit her, it became very apparent that neither agent owed his partner a brass farthing. ‘Sam' Lambert was in her mid- to late-20s, with flawless skin, pale blue eyes, and very light blonde hair that fell straight from a center part to just below her shoulders – no curls or feathering – a style more reminiscent of a decade earlier. Her collarless navy boucle suit with white piping announced ‘Chanel’ politely but firmly to anyone who knew of such things, and she stood 5’ 11” in matching leather pumps. Doyle found himself looking rather disconcertingly up into her face as she drew near.
“I was merely enjoying the view of the city at dusk, Pére. It has been a long time since we were last here.” While her speech was measured with the care of one who was not using her native language, it held none of the sibilance or inflection of her father’s accent. She laid a hand on her father’s back as she stopped beside him, and he slipped his arm around her waist to return the embrace.
“I know, my dear,” he sighed as she laid her cheek along his and kissed him. “I have tried, but there is your work, and mine, and our other schedules… Now, please may I introduce Mr. Doyle and Mr. Bodie, who will be our… companions until after I sign the contracts on Monday.”
Looking back at the two men he continued, “Gentlemen, this is my daughter Samantha, who was named after my late wife’s father, and who insists on using that name and its horrible male derivative, rather than any of the other beautiful French ones she was gifted with at her christening.”
Sam held out her hand to Ray. “Mr. Doyle?”
“Ray, please, Miss Lambert,” he replied as he shook it.
“Please call me Sam, then. And Mr. Bodie,” she finished, turning to him.
“Just Bodie,” he said, and lifted her hand to his lips. She looked slightly puzzled, and he gave a shrug that was a credible imitation of the one her father had used earlier. “It’s complicated,” he offered up as an explanation, and let her fingers slip from his.
“Ah,” she replied, and nodded slightly. “I sometimes have this problem, also. Now, if you’ll excuse me, please?” She looked back to her father, who smiled and nodded. She smiled back at him, and walked away into the bedroom.
As her father crossed the room to the desk, Bodie looked away from watching Sam disappear through the doorway to find his partner gaping at him with incredulity. “You dog, Bodie! Making a move with her father standing right there! I dunno where you get off, mate.”
“Was just being polite, is all. Can’t help it if you don’t know how to handle a sophisticated woman, can I? Or if she seems to prefer tall, dark, and exceptionally modest…” Bodie raised his eyebrows and smirked.
Ray knew a gauntlet when he saw one thrown, and took it up enthusiastically. Crossing his arms over his chest, he announced, “I can handle any woman I come across, mate, and I don’t know as she expressed any preference just now.
“This job’s over Monday lunch, because the Cow thinks there’s no further threat to Mr. Lambert once the ink’s dry on the contracts. We’ll just see who’s taking Sam out to on the town that evening when she’s free to move about, shall we then?” He emphasized the last by poking his index finger in Bodie’s sternum.
“Right, then. Winner escorts Mlle. Lambert,” for the title Bodie put on his best French accent, “to supper, and loser fills out both sets of paperwork for the job.”
“Hope you don’t sprain your typing fingers this weekend, Bodie-mate.”
“No need to dig your platform shoes out of the back of the closet, Sunshine.”