He didn’t see her until she crossed in front of him and slid into the opposite chair. Her long black hair nearly reached the floor, as did her embroidered dress.
“I apologize,” she said curtly. “I was delayed with another matter.”
The barman brought her martini to the table personally.
“It is a pleasure to meet you in person, Monsieur Christoph.”
“And you, Zhang Yan. Your beauty takes its toll on this aged heart.”
She smirked and drained her glass.
“My employer has considered your proposal,” she studied his wrinkled face and soft grey hair. “He is of the opinion that we could do business together.”
“I am glad to hear it,” Pierre replied. “Always nice to find a respectable buyer for such sensitive information.”
“My employer trusts that you have not shared such information with any other agencies.”
“Of course not,” Pierre scowled. “I have my reputation to consider, and of course, exclusivity guarantees a certain price-point.”
He adjusted his spectacles and tried to bring Yan’s face into focus, Pierre’s eyes weren’t what they used to be.
She held her empty glass up to the sunlight pouring across the table, it was streaked and spotted. “Not the cleanest establishment you’ve selected.”
“No, but the view is spectacular. The desert behind us, and the sea ahead of us. There is no juxtaposition on Earth like Egypt.”
Pierre’s vision blurred and swam again. He held the edge of the heavy oak table to steady himself.
“One too many perhaps?” Yan asked with another smirk. “Do all frenchmen have such feeble constitution?”
“I wasn’t waiting that long,” he adjusted his spectacles once more. “I only had one—”
Pierre leaned sideways and fell from his chair. He hit the floor with a muffled thud.
“How unseemly,” Yan scoffed and stood abruptly. “I hope your information proves more reliable than you are, old man.” She adjusted her dress and stepped around his shaking body. “We’ll arrange another meeting to discuss terms. Do hold yourself together next time.”
Two of the hotel security guards lifted Pierre and carried him out of the restaurant, and through the stockroom.
Zhang Yan started down the stone stairway that led to her hotel room. They couldn’t expect her to fly from Beijing to Alexandria without taking a few days for herself. Suddenly, the stairway tilted and spun. She snatched the handrail and closed her eyes to maintain balance.
Yan turned and saw a blurry group of security guards waiting at the foot of the stairs. She took another step, lurched, and tumbled down to meet them.