The Singer Wore White
The short delay entering through the glass revolving door gave those interested an excellent opportunity to view and assess visitors to the five star luxury Grand Hotel prominently located on the cliff top overlooking the sea. Giles is sitting, chuckling, in the expansive foyer on a really uncomfortable but clearly expensive blue satin reproduction Fauteuil chair. The position is particularly suitable as it offers the best view of the main entrance. And there is that stocky seemingly inconspicuous man again, in the dark blue suit and dark glasses going past outside. This is the second time, though until now he has not looked in. A good looking man carrying a dark brown attache case neatly dressed in an expensive grey suit and blue tie pushes through the door, dodges the lady in the red dress in a state of confusion, and sits down next to him.
The reason for his levity, the dark haired lady, expensively clad in pearls and full length red dress had made a complete hash of her entrance. Her over tall heels had hindered her progress allowing the door behind to catch up as she had gathered up material and then been half flung out where she had stopped, turned and silently cursed the contraption with a steely stare while lifting her left heel with a grimace.
“Madam, can I be of assistance?” This is the concierge the always capable hero of all posh hotels, the universal permanent smile stuck in place and immoveable. The main requisite for all such employed, a fine set a sparkly white teeth.
A momentary pause as composure is restored. “Of course you can, as you can see I am in distress, my ankle hurts, your means of entry by no means suitable for ladies in evening regalia. I am going to the lounge bar and would appreciate some support.”
At that moment a similarly clad blond lady, but wearing pale blue, with equally high heels exits the door with the elegance and decorum suggestive of a fully trained debutante. As she passes she glances sideways giving an “I’m superior by a long way look” that only leads to inflame the already frayed temper. “Bitch” but only the lips move.
At that, Giles who is continuing to watch fails to withhold slightly overloud amusement with the resultant stream of daggers hitting their mark causing him to glance down to avoid her furious eyes.
“Sorry about that. She is magnificent isn't she. What’ve you got?”
“It’s all in here Giles everything you need to know. It’s the clincher. It’s dynamite.” Mark Denham is sitting in an equally uncomfortable chair and shuffling around. Mark is Giles’ snoop, his gatherer of all things relevant and is indispensable.
“Is it all secure and unseen?”
“Yes, no one else knows. I’ve spent the last two days working on this on my own with no contact with anyone.”
“Excellent and well done. Right, I will put the contents of the case in the safe in my room and then meet you in the bar.”
In the meantime Henry takes hold of the red dressed lady’s arm and gently supports her as she wobbles to the lounge bar and secures her a seat, towards the back, facing outwards where she can recline in comfort.
“Thank you so much Henry.” The name in gold on the badge pinned exactly parallel to, exactly central and exactly one quarter inch below the top of his grey suit jacket’s breast pocket. The professionally folded blue diamond shaped handkerchief complementing the whole arrangement.
“You're welcome madam.” clicking his fingers at the white jacketed round silver salver that is patrolling the area.
“Yes Madam.” said the waiter.
“Margarita a double with extra lime and salt please.”
The statuesque lady with the dark brown faux fur coat and bright red lipstick is waiting to enter the lift as Giles returns. “Come on Edward, do keep up.” Her husband a good six inches shorter and resenting the leash he is on. Giles grins, turns right and walks with his deliberate upright, shoulders back stance to the bar where Mark is sitting on a tall metal stool, leaning on the chrome top talking to the dark suited cocktail waiter. The area is fairly quiet, it is that period between seven and nine when people are dining.
“Yes sir?” Tom’s badge is slightly wonky but his black bow tie is perfectly placed and clearly expertly knotted.
“Dark and stormy please with a double shot of Goslings and extra lime. What’ve you got there Mark?”
“Oh, a little concoction. One of Tom’s specials, not sure what’s in it, he called it a Tom’s Surprise and it’s that all right. It sure grabs the throat”
“I’ll fix up a meeting for Wednesday that gives us tomorrow to get everything in place. Is that enough?”
“Definitely, we are all ready to go and well up on the competition.”
There is the white piano plinkering away in the corner starting to distract thought from the conversation. It is mesmerising, almost hypnotic. Everyone stops and looks up when a piano begins to play, the cocktail lounge style peaceful and relaxing. Mark finishes his drink then leaves. He has an appointment with a dark, stylish, sultry lady who he likes a lot and wants to take places. Tom is making rattling noises shaking the cocktail mixer. Something cool for someone hot. She is standing at the bar in her blue dress with flirting eyes having strayed away from what turned out to be a boring date. Giles ignores her silent suggestions and is staring at the lady in the red dress who for the last hour has been sitting on her own drinking doubles.
“Hi I’m Giles. I’m really sorry I laughed at your misfortune. How’s your ankle, it looked like you twisted it?”
“Hurts a bit but not too bad. Just not used to walking so high up, I always thought I was tall enough anyway.”
“Well I’m sorry.”
“It was quite funny wasn't it though. I must’ve looked a sight and that blue creature at the bar. What a snob.”
“Yeah I know and yes you did but in a most appealing way. On your own? With your looks I can’t imagine why.”
“Thank you, what a nice thing to say. My date did not show. Just another nail in a bad night.”
“Well, maybe I can help change that. Another drink?”
“Why not. It’s a margarita, double tequila with double lime and salt.” As the waiter arrives, salver at the ready.
“And mine’s a dark and stormy with double rum and double lime. Thank you.”
“Wow double, doubles. You like lime as well then?”
“Sure, it’s the best, adds a kind of salty sharpness. Are you hungry? Would you like dinner?”
“No thank you I have gone past all that. I’ll finish this and then head home, get an early night.”
“Well I’m here for a few days. Can I buy you dinner tomorrow? To make up for laughing at you.”
“That would be nice. Here?”
“Yes the restaurant is excellent. Say seven thirty and we can do the doubles before. Just realised I don’t know your name.”
“Jill. Jill Reynolds and pleased to meet you.”
As Giles gets ready to leave it has slipped past nine o’clock and a singer arrives. Starts running through some Manhattan Transfer numbers though a bit downtempo, the lady in the white dress and long blond hair passionately moving the words around. He sways a bit crossing the floor moving to the music or the effects of those doubles. Who knows. The lady in the blue dress gives him a final chance with a hopeful glance. Then he is in the foyer heading to the lift passing the Americans checking in. Their matching luggage stacked and ready to go. The big tippers and Henry is hovering, the prospect alluring. “Good night sir” as he passes. Into the lift and presses four. Emails to check and details to work on ready for a new day.
Up at eight, light breakfast then through the dreaded door, the doorman says “Taxi sir?” and he replies “No thank you. Walking today.” Along the pavement mostly against the flow, dodging the man with the big box struggling to see the way ahead shouting “scuse me, scuse me.” To the traffic lights, wait for the red, then across and taking the side road where all the posh offices are. Willard, Willard and Wilson-Willard Solicitors and “Giles Morgan to see Mr Swinnage.” Cedric Swinnage, the senior partner, sitting behind his huge spankingly polished oak desk, probably Victorian, dressed in the pinstripes of his profession with the necessary smugly, knowall look and well polished rounded diction.
“Giles so good to see you. A seat.” presses the mandatory button “Sheila coffee please and your ever so nice shortbreads. Now how are things?”
“Very good thank you Cedric we will be trying to clinch the deal tomorrow. Can you be on hand to cover all the necessary?”
“Certainly old chap. I will attend in person just let me know the time and place and I will be there. I will remain available all day so short notice if necessary is no problem.”
“Excellent. I will be in touch then.”
Extra strong bitter black coffee leaves that horrible burnt aftertaste and slightly stale whatever they were with too thick a sugar coat and he’s heading back. More of a saunter now with less purpose involved and time to look around. He notices the stocky man, same suit and dark glasses turn away and head off briskly towards the High Street. Not a coincidence, he is sure he is being watched and determines to be vigilant. There is too much at stake to be complacent.
The rest of the day is relaxing. The final details will be ironed out with Mark tomorrow morning so the pressure is off for now. At seven fifteen he heads to the lounge bar and catches Henry in the foyer.
“I’m meeting Jill, you know the lady yesterday in the red dress.”
“Difficult to forget sir, full of good looks and charm but a walking disaster if you don’t mind me saying. In my opinion though sir, an excellent combination for a full and eventful evening. I will of course direct her in your direction.”
“Thanks Henry and this is for all your trouble and your kind assistance yesterday.”
Jill arrives close to seven thirty. He has the drinks ordered just waiting for the nod and Tom gets to work. She is wearing everything sensible and looking much more relaxed.
“Hi, you look great. Better than all that formal stuff. How’s the ankle?”
“You say all the right things. I feel more normal and the ankle’s fine now thank you.”
They chat a while getting a good understanding going, then to diner, wine and the inevitable, ending up in his room around midnight.
It’s morning and he says “I am seeing Mark at nine in the foyer then a meeting so will be tied up most of the day. We could meet up this evening perhaps and I’m free all day tomorrow if you want to do something.”
“That would be nice, we could go to that art gallery where the new exhibition is on. I’ve wanted to see that for a while. Now I need a shower then I’ll head home.”
“That’s good. I’ll order breakfast. Takes about twenty minutes to arrive so no rush.”
When she is finished he says “I’ll just nip in there while we wait for breakfast. Won’t be long.” About ten minutes of shave, soap and shampoo later he comes out rubbing his hair “has that breakfast arrived yet?” There is no reply. The room is empty. She has gone, the attache case is missing and the safe is open. He cannot believe it. He sits on the bed, head in hands knowing he has been done and done big time, the worst, all that valuable information, the deal clincher, all gone.
In the foyer about eight thirty and the stocky man in a dark blue suit but without dark glasses is sitting on a very uncomfortable chair chatting to the Americans, and sees Jill go by carrying the case. He gets up and quickly follows, the fur coated woman with red lipstick gleaming coming in through the door slows Jill down allowing the man to catch up. He enters the same compartment of the revolving door as she does. There is a brisk exchange of words and they both leave together. At eight forty five Mark enters and sits in the same seat as before. At exactly nine o’clock Giles comes down empty handed.
“Morning Mark, terrible news. She took the lot. Cleaned out the safe. All your hard work is gone.”
“How did that happen?”
“I met her last night and well, you know. Basically she suckered me.”
Through the door the stocky, blue suited man appears carrying the attache case.
“Giles, this is Dave Simmons a private detective. I’ve had him shadowing you for the past few days. Added security considering the delicate stage we are at. What do you know Dave?”
“The lady Jill was employed by your main rival to observe and collect information. She did not know what to expect. It was all opportunist. She staged her entrance to attract your attention and overheard your conversation with Mark and the information being put in your safe. Once she had you hooked the rest was easy. She had the skill to quickly access the safe. I was not at first sure if she was involved but when I saw her this morning with the case so I assumed the rest. I followed and apprehended her outside but she slipped my grasp.”
Mark opens the case “Everything is here.”
“I think we have been lucky and thank you so much Dave. And you Mark for your forethought. We can conclude this today. The meeting is at twelve. You know I really did like her.”
Nine in the morning about a week later Giles receives an email “Hi Giles it’s Jill. I’m really sorry, it was just business. I feel so guilty because I genuinely liked you. Liked you very much in fact. If you can ever forgive me please get in touch.”
He replies “Marco’s on the High Street one o’clock today and I will wait exactly thirty minutes.”