The Paris Game
Françoise.” He snapped his phone shut. “You’ll have to excuse me—I have another engagement. Gordon, I’ll speak to you later.” He turned to Marc. “And if you can work something out for the wife...”
    “Of course,” Marc agreed.
    “Good.” Royale returned to his office. Jean followed, and Marc and Jeremy were left alone.
    After a short silence, Jeremy remarked, “What are you needing done?”
    “Royale didn’t tell you?”
    “No.” Jeremy leaned against the rail, his fingers tapping the wood.
    “I need you to find someone for me. Two someones.” Marc pulled a folded sheet of A4 from the inner pocket of his jacket and passed it to Jeremy.
    Jeremy scanned the sheet. “And then?”
    The last time he’d dealt with incompetence on this scale, Marc had the thief run out of Paris. It worked, but not for long. The man had ended up dead in one of the seedier parts of the city after a fight gone wrong. Or so the police had thought.
    “If they leave Paris, that would be enough.”
    “Really?” Jeremy laughed. “That’s a waste of my abilities. I shouldn’t even bother.”
    “If they won’t go, then by all means, use other methods,” Marc continued. Murder would never be his first choice, no matter Jeremy’s opinion. He wouldn’t stoop to that level; his hands were dirty enough.
    “That’s more like it.” Jeremy folded the paper and tucked it into his pocket. “I’ll take €2000 up front and another €2000 if I have to kill them.”
    Marc’s profit on the sketches shrank with every misstep the Girards had made. He knew he’d be lucky to break even. “Fine.”
    “You can send the money to my hotel if you don’t have it on you.” Jeremy’s smirk returned. He stood casually, but he took Marc’s measure.
    “Why not here?”
    “I don’t need Royale trying to take a cut. He already thinks everything belongs to him.” Jeremy’s expression changed, becoming more of a grimace. Marc watched with a newfound wariness. Jeremy was starting to embody the temperament of an artist. And what Marc didn’t need was a hit-man with the emotional instability of Toulouse-Lautrec.
    “How do you know Royale?” Marc knew he should have asked Royale the same question about Jeremy before the meeting.
    “Mutual friends,” Jeremy said vaguely. “I don’t need to ask the same of you—Royale’s already been singing your praises. You’re his favourite dealer.”
    “How flattering.” He didn’t think of Royale in such terms. Rather, the man was an unfortunate side effect of his uncle’s legacy.
    Jeremy looked as if he would say something more, but thought better of it. “I’ll be in touch,” he said instead.
    “How long will it take you?”
    “That depends on the targets. They won’t get a chance to rat you out, if that’s what you’re worried about. You know, given how protective you French are of your art, I’m surprised you do what you do.”
    Marc didn’t bother answering the patronizing remark, though he would have liked to reply with a fist. A man like Jeremy Gordon wouldn’t understand family loyalty. He lit another cigarette.
    “A bit glamorous though, isn’t it?” Jeremy continued, as if he hadn’t noticed Marc’s reticence. “Probably attracts the ladies—the big, bad art dealer.”
    Marc shrugged. “If you say so.” He moved towards the door, pushing it open. “Let me know when it’s done.” He stepped out into the late afternoon sunshine. His phone buzzed in his pocket. He drew it out and listened to his voicemail. It was Sera. His heart stopped. He didn’t even bother to listen to the rest of the message, he rang her straight back.
    “Marc—I didn’t expect to hear from you so soon. So will you come?”
    He heard her laugh.
    “To dinner, of course. Didn’t you get my message?”
    “I didn’t listen to it, I just noticed you had called.” He turned off the boulevard St. Germain and onto a quieter side street.
    “Dinner at my place tomorrow.

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