Quest for Alexis

Quest for Alexis by Nancy Buckingham

Book: Quest for Alexis by Nancy Buckingham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nancy Buckingham
Tags: gothic romance
us and beamed as he opened the door.
    “Voila.”
    With the handbrake off, the two men started to push the big, heavy car clear of ours. I threw in my own weight to hurry things along. Then Brett fished in his pocket for a tip.
    “Oh, come on,” I said. “For heaven’s sake.”
    “A few seconds isn’t going to make any difference,” Brett reproved me.
    At this hour of the morning it was still dark, and the streets were almost deserted. In only a few moments we were driving along the broad Promenade des An glais, with the long curving line of street lamps tracing the huge sweep of the bay, mile after mile of tropical palms and luxuriant flower beds.
    The Hotel des Alpes-Maritimes had a colonnade of white pillars the entire length of its facade. Of the hun dreds upon hundreds of windows, most were in dark ness.
    Brett swung into the forecourt and found a place to park.
    We pushed through glass revolving doors into a vast shadowed entrance hall that was like a Byzantine palace of marble and mosaic under a lofty vaulted ceiling. In the pool of bright light around the reception desk a group of men were talking excitedly among themselves.
    Brett took one look at them and halted. “Damn. They’ve beaten us to it, Gail.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “They’re newspapermen, that’s what.”
    “Oh no,” I cried in dismay. “But how could they know? And so quickly.” Dougal had seemed confident that no one else knew about Alexis’s plans.
    “These chaps have an uncanny instinct when there’s a good story,” said Brett. “Come on, we’ll just have to bluff it out.”
    Seizing my hand, he thrust his way through the bunch of reporters to the desk, pulling me after him. He addressed the concierge in a brisk, commanding voice.
    “The number of Dr. Karel’s room, please. Dr. Alexis Karel.”
    “I regret, monsieur, but you must wait with the others.”
    The man was enjoying to the hilt his brief moment of power. “Dr. Karel has agreed to receive the press in half an hour.”
    “Oh, but we’re not reporters,” I said impulsively. “We want to see Dr. Karel on a private matter.”
    The hush that fell upon the group of newsmen was something tangible. Six pairs of eyes all turned to stare at me. Dimly, I heard the concierge’s impatient voice. “Dr. Karel will see no one until he is ready, madame. Those are his precise instructions. He is angry at being hounded by newspapers in this way.”
    Someone took a step toward me, a middle-aged gray-haired man who looked as if he’d dressed in as great a hurry as I had.
    “Hey, miss, what d’you want to see Alexis Karel about?”
    “The same as you,” said Brett quickly before I could speak. “You know how it is—we thought it was worth a try.”
    “That’s Brett Warrender,” someone muttered, and another voice asked, “Who’s the bird with him?”
    “Hands off her,” said Brett lightly. “She belongs to me.”
    A whisper came from the back of the group and caught me like a whiplash. My name.
    It was picked up at once. “Gail Fleming? Say, isn’t that Karel’s niece?”
    There was a blinding blue-white flash and then an other. I heard the click of camera shutters and held up my hands to shield my face. The reporters pressed around me purposefully.
    “Miss Fleming, maybe you can tell us ...”
    I was saved by a sudden commotion from some where behind them. A new voice called out excitedly, “What do you know—Karel’s skipped out again. I just got it from the floor waiter. Him and that doll he’s with —checked out, bags and all, five minutes ago.”
     

Chapter Nine
     
    Brett and I were suddenly left alone near the reception desk as the reporters surged away toward the new comer, arguing noisily among themselves.
    I felt the hard grip of Brett’s fingers on my wrist. “Come on, Gail—now’s our chance.” He waved a banknote at the bewildered concierge. “Quick, get us out of here without that lot knowing.”
    The man caught on fast. In a

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