James Bond Anthology

James Bond Anthology by Ian Fleming Page A

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Authors: Ian Fleming
company?’
    ‘You get your sleep,’ said Bond. ‘Don’t worry about us. They won’t be interested in me without the money and I’ve got an idea for looking after that. Thanks for all you’ve done. I hope we get on a job again one day.’
    ‘Suits me,’ said Leiter, ‘so long as you can draw a nine when it’s needed – and bring Vesper along with you,’ he added dryly. He went out and closed the door.
    Bond turned back to the friendliness of his room.
    After the crowded arena of the big table and the nervous strain of the three hours’ play, he was glad to be alone for a moment and be welcomed by his pyjamas on the bed and his hair-brushes on the dressing-table. He went into the bathroom and dashed cold water over his face and gargled with a sharp mouthwash. He felt the bruises on the back of his head and on his right shoulder. He reflected cheerfully how narrowly he had twice that day escaped being murdered. Would he have to sit up all that night and wait for them to come again, or was Le Chiffre even now on his way to Le Havre or Bordeaux to pick up a boat for some corner of the world where he could escape the eyes and the guns of SMERSH?
    Bond shrugged his shoulders. Sufficient unto that day had been its evil. He gazed for a moment into the mirror and wondered about Vesper’s morals. He wanted her cold and arrogant body. He wanted to see tears and desire in her remote blue eyes and to take the ropes of her black hair in his hands and bend her long body back under his. Bond’s eyes narrowed and his face in the mirror looked back at him with hunger.
    He turned away and took out of his pocket the cheque for forty million francs. He folded this very small. Then he opened the door and looked up and down the corridor. He left the door wide open and with his ears cocked for footsteps or the sound of the lift, he set to work with a small screwdriver.
    Five minutes later he gave a last-minute survey to his handiwork, put some fresh cigarettes in his case, closed and locked the door and went off down the corridor and across the hall and out into the moonlight.

 
    14 | ‘ LA VIE EN ROSE? ’
    The entrance to the Roi Galant was a seven-foot golden picture-frame which had once, perhaps, enclosed the vast portrait of a noble European. It was in a discreet corner of the ‘kitchen’ – the public roulette and boule room, where several tables were still busy. As Bond took Vesper’s arm and led her over the gilded step, he fought back a hankering to borrow some money from the caisse and plaster maximums over the nearest table. But he knew that this would be a brash and cheap gesture ‘pour épater la bourgeoisie’. Whether he won or lost, it would be a kick in the teeth to the luck which had been given him.
    The night club was small and dark, lit only by candles in gilded candelabra whose warm light was repeated in wall mirrors set in more gold picture-frames. The walls were covered in dark red satin and the chairs and ‘banquettes’ in matching red plush. In the far corner, a trio, consisting of a piano, an electric guitar and drums, was playing ‘La Vie en Rose’ with muted sweetness. Seduction dripped on the quietly throbbing air. It seemed to Bond that every couple must be touching with passion under the tables.
    They were given a corner table near the door. Bond ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and scrambled eggs and bacon.
    They sat for a time listening to the music and then Bond turned to Vesper: ‘It’s wonderful sitting here with you and knowing the job’s finished. It’s a lovely end to the day – the prize-giving.’
    He expected her to smile. She said: ‘Yes, isn’t it,’ in a rather brittle voice. She seemed to be listening carefully to the music. One elbow rested on the table and her hand supported her chin, but on the back of her hand and not on the palm, and Bond noticed that her knuckles showed white as if her fist was tightly clenched.
    Between the thumb and first two fingers of her

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