THE NAME OF WHICH ESCAPES MY MEMORY . I AM AFRAID MANY OF THE DETAILS OF THE ELABORATE SCENE WERE LOST ON ME, AS MY ATTENTION WAS DRAWN TO A M ISS I SABELLE V AN T ASSEL . S HE WAS MORE CHARMING IN HER FROZEN POSE THAN THE ARTIST’S MODEL COULD HAVE BEEN WHEN THE ORIGINAL WAS PAINTED . I VOWED ON THE SPOT I WOULD FIND AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO HER DURING THE WEEKEND ACTIVITIES.
Here was something about his business. Cordelia read on.
D IPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE SEEMS TO BE THE BEST METHOD TO ADDRESS THE NUMEROUS CONFLICTING CLAIMS ON OUR PROPERTY IN S PITSBERGEN . F OR SOME TIME THE GOVERNMENT OF THE U NITED S TATES AND THAT OF N ORWAY HAVE BEEN IN HEATED DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE OVER THE TITLE OF THE LAND OF THE A RCTIC C OAL M INING C OMPANY . H OWEVER , I FEAR THE TITLE MATTER ULTIMATELY WILL HAVE TO BE SUBMITTED FOR ARBITRATION . B UT I TAKE HEART THAT UNTIL THE DECISION OF THE ARBITRATORS OCCURS, NO ONE BUT MYSELF OR MY PARTNER , S IR J AMES S KYE R USSELL, CAN HAVE TITLE TO ANY OF THIS PROPERTY.
Monaco Fencing Club
S inclair was late. He bounded up the steps of the Fédération Monegasque d’Escrime. Charles was already lounging on a couch. The main hall was all dark wood, leather furniture, and polished marble floors—it was a real Victorian men’s club, the same as it had been at the turn of the century.
“Hey,” said Charles when he saw him, and started to get up.
Sinclair simply tilted his head in the direction of the changing rooms and kept moving. Inside, he pulled open his locker and surveyed his gear. Wire-mesh masks, heavy canvas jackets, sabers, rubber-soled shoes with a special tread on the heel. The club kept everything in good order for him.
Charles came in and selected sabers from his collection, checking the fit on his mask. He seemed totally absorbed, and disinclined to talk.
Sinclair remembered the first time they had met at the club. Charles had been tearing up opponents for an hour or so when Sinclair had approached. Charles had beaten him in seconds, the start of a good friendship.
“Hey, I tried to get you earlier,” Charles said, testing the grip on his saber.
“I turned off my cell. I went to lunch at Hotel du Cap,” said Sinclair.
Charles looked over at him.
“Why, you like the burgers?”
“No, I ran into Cordelia Stapleton and asked her to lunch.”
“No. Really? I was going to ask her out myself, but you beat me to it,” Charles admitted. “So . . . what do you think?”
“Lovely girl,” said Sinclair, checking the fit of his jacket.
“I told you she was fantastic,” said Charles.
“No, it’s not like that. I was just being hospitable. I wanted to show her the neighborhood.”
“Sure,” said Charles.
“Seriously, I’m not interested in anything right now. I can’t stand another go-around. I’ve had it.”
“Look, don’t let a coked-out boozer like Shari put you off women.”
“Shari’s not a coked-out boozer. A lot of other things, but not that.”
“OK, you would know.” Charles changed the subject. “But seriously, what do you think of Cordelia? I talked to her after the gala. She said she ignored you during dinner and was worried about it.”
“Good. Serves her right for flirting with Jean-Louis Etienne right under my very nose.”
“No, actually they were talking about the ice pack.”
“Very romantic. You must be slipping if you couldn’t break up that kind of chatter. So what do you really think of her?”
“I don’t know. We just had lunch. She seems smart. Great-looking, of course, but sort of reserved. Almost shy.”
“Anyone would seem shy after Shari.”
“Agreed,” said Sinclair with a wry smile. “Shari was a bit of an exhibitionist.”
“I would say so,” said Charles. “Remember that time on Yanni’s yacht?”
“God, how could I forget? The papers had a field day.”
“So what about Cordelia. Going to see her again? She doesn’t leave for a day or so.”
“Well, you won’t