Home > The Man in the Black Suit(4)

The Man in the Black Suit(4)
Author: Sylvain Reynard


   Monsieur Breckman stood at the bar—a well-stocked affair set atop an antique wooden cabinet. He had a short, whispered exchange with Rick, who disappeared into the adjoining conservatory and left the door between the two rooms ajar.

   Rick’s departure drew Acacia’s attention to the floor-to-ceiling windows, whose curtains had been pulled back. She could see the impressive terrace and beyond it, the Eiffel Tower.

   Acacia tucked her concierge journal under her arm. She wondered how Monsieur Breckman had discovered the truth behind Marcel’s absence. Monsieur Breckman must have sources in the police prefecture.

   The guest placed ice cubes in a highball glass. He poured vodka from a bottle of Grey Goose and swirled the mixture before adding tonic water and a slice of lemon.

   He lifted the glass to his lips and paused, his attention drawn to the elegant mirror that hung over the bar.

   Acacia watched as the man shifted minutely, so he could no longer see his own scar.

   She looked down at her shoes, embarrassed at having witnessed so private a moment.

   “I’ve decided to increase my security detail,” he announced. “When they arrive, I’d like them escorted here. I’ll use the rear entrance to the hotel from now on.”

   “Of course,” Acacia replied. “I expect your security will want to liaise with hotel security. I can arrange a meeting.”

   “Absolutely not. Hotel security failed Marcel.”

   Acacia bristled. “I assure you, we’re all very upset about what happened. The management is taking steps to address the situation.”

   “Forgive me if I don’t trust the management.” The man leaned against the bar, his back to the mirror. “I’m curious. When did you learn of the assault?”

   Acacia hesitated.

   The man cocked an eyebrow at her.

   She swallowed. “Last night. Monsieur Roy rang me at home.”

   “Did Marcel have any enemies? A jilted lover? Anyone who might wish him harm?”

   “I’m not familiar with his personal life. Some of our guests are…challenging.” Acacia carefully avoided looking at the guest at that moment. “But Marcel is respected. The police said it was a mugging.”

   “If that’s what the police said, they lied. A mugging is a crime of opportunity, conducted swiftly with minimal violence. Marcel sustained several broken bones and a head injury. He was assaulted shortly after his shift ended and dragged around the corner, out of sight of the hotel doormen. That sounds premeditated, not opportunistic.”

   Acacia’s eyes widened. “How do you know?”

   The man lifted his glass to his lips. “Research.”

   “Why would the police lie?”

   “Did you speak to them directly?”

   “An officer interviewed me when I arrived this morning, but he wouldn’t tell me anything. Monsieur Roy is the one who addressed the staff.” Acacia came a step closer. “Why would someone want to harm Marcel?”

   “That is a very good question.” The guest swirled the contents of his glass.

   “Someone needs to speak to the police. Marcel could still be in danger.”

   “The Parisian police aren’t fools. They know this without being told.”

   Acacia pondered his words. She had a contact in the Brigade de Répression du Banditisme, but she wasn’t keen to speak to him. She wondered what contacts Monsieur Breckman had.

   She tilted her head toward the hall. “I should return to my desk so I can greet your security detail.”

   The guest retreated to the sofa. He sat and stretched out his long legs. “Are you from Portugal, mademoiselle?”

   “Brazil.

   “Monsieur, your reservation is at Guy Savoy’s at eight o’clock. I’m sure you wish to relax before dinner. If there isn’t anything else, I’ll wish you a good evening.” She forced a smile and turned to go.

   “How long have you lived in Paris?”

   Acacia stopped. She avoided sharing personal details with guests, but she was all too conscious of the manager’s threat. Monsieur Breckman was a highly valued guest.

   She faced him. “I came to Paris as a student.”

   “Did you study languages?”

   She examined his expression. If the guest was feigning interest, he was an exceptionally fine actor.

   “Among other things,” she hedged.

   “Such as?” His dark eyes pinned her to the spot.

   “I studied art.” Her posture stiffened.

   The man’s eyebrows lifted. “Which period?”

   “Impressionism.”

   Breckman gestured to a print of Edgar Degas’ The Ballet Class, which hung on the wall opposite. “Are you responsible for that?”

   She smiled to herself. “No, the hotel has an interior designer who is responsible for the furnishings.”

   “I sense Degas is not your favorite.”

   “I prefer Monet.”

   “Monet is very popular.”

   “One could argue that Degas is even more popular, if you take into consideration the number of his works that have been stolen.”

   “Stolen?” the guest repeated, his eyes suddenly alert.

   “There was the theft from the Gardiner Museum in America. And the Musée d’Orsay lost Les Choristes when it was stolen while on loan in Marseilles.”

   “Yes, but Les Choristes was recovered. Unfortunately, the Gardiner works have never been found.” The guest finished the rest of his drink. “What do you think of Matisse?”

   Acacia frowned. “Matisse is post-Impressionist.”

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