Chapter 14



With a swagger and a nod to the hostess, Pepe Laroque entered the hotel restaurant.  He proceeded to the table in the back of the restaurant where the light was lowest.  Cameron, Marie, and Nicole were at the table waiting for him.  As Pepe approached the table he opened his arms to Cameron.  “Mon ami Cameron,” said Pepe in his deep French accent, and the two embraced and traded kisses on each cheek.

“Retirement is treating you well my old friend,” said Cameron.  He was referring to the paunch Pepe had developed that was mostly hidden by his black sweater and sport coat.  Pepe was not fat, still his short height betrayed his girth.

“It is a good life,” said Pepe placing both hands on his belly, “We cannot all be eternally trim, like the Dragon Chef.”

Cameron brushed his finger across his nose, “You heard that.”

“I heard.”

Cameron gestured to the table.  “May I introduce Marie and Nicole,” said Cameron.  “Marie, Nicole, this is my dear old friend Pepe.”

“Bonsoir Monsieur Pepe, Je suis heureux de vous rencontrer,” said Marie.

“Bonsoir,” said Nicole.

“Bonsoir Mesdames enchanté,” said Pepe, a gleam in his eye.  “Let us just say I am a dear friend, not so old.”

“Have a seat,” said Cameron.

“You have picked rough company,” said Pepe as he took his seat.

“I kind of fell into this,” said Cameron.

“I was speaking to the ladies.”  Pepe raised his eyebrows and leaned slightly toward Marie and Nicole, “Beware of this one I tell you.  In all of the years I have known him, he is never far from falling it seems.”

Nicole giggled at Pepe’s exaggerated cavalier manner and Marie kindly released a subtle smile, a compliment on her part.

Pepe waived over the waiter.  “Garcon, une autre carafe de vin s’il vous plait,” said Pepe and then, having ordered wine, he was quick to business.  “When old Claude called I was expecting that you or he would be in town for a visit.  Then I said to myself, Pepe, it is something up with Kincaid.  And to be sure.”  Pepe opened his eyes wide.

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