Dead Line

Dead Line by Chris Ewan Read Free Book Online

Book: Dead Line by Chris Ewan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Ewan
Tags: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective, Crime Fiction
and he was whistling as he came along the corridor. The tune wasn’t anything Trent might have expected. It was fast and shrill and carefree.
    The skinny young man who burst into the room wasn’t anything Trent might have expected, either.
    He was drunk or high or possibly both. He swayed as he entered, his stringy arms flailing loosely from a colourful Hawaiian shirt. He wore a dazed grin beneath a mop of sun-bleached hair and he clapped Alain on the shoulder before swerving past Trent and staggering towards a drinks cabinet on the far side of the room.
    He grabbed a cut-glass decanter of whisky and poured a generous measure into a tumbler. He lifted the glass to his face and sniffed it, then wrinkled his nose. He experimented with a taste, recoiled dramatically, and slammed the tumbler back down. He added ice cubes to the mix. Took a larger sip. Hummed in satisfaction.
    ‘Philippe?’
    He spun around at the sound of Stephanie’s voice and covered his heart with his hand, as if he’d been spooked by a ghost.
    ‘
Maman!
 ’ He summoned a dramatic bow.
    ‘Sit down, Philippe.’
    ‘As you wish, maman .’
    He rotated his hand at the wrist in a flourish and dropped into the tan leather chesterfield. His body jolted with the impact and he spilt alcohol on his lap. He chuckled stupidly, as if delighted by the moist patch that had appeared on his jeans.
    ‘You’re drunk ,’ Stephanie said, and her tone suggested it wasn’t the first time she’d said those words to him.
    He swayed at the waist, spluttering with laughter.
    ‘He’s no use to us like this,’ Trent said, voice hard.
    ‘You understand that I’m not his mother.’ Stephanie gave Philippe a withering look. ‘We’re almost the same age. Something he resents almost as much as my marriage to his father.’
    Philippe raised his glass to Trent. ‘And you are . . . ?’
    ‘The negotiator,’ he said, and told him his name. ‘I’m here to help get your father back alive.’
    ‘An expert.’ Philippe’s teeth chipped off the edge of his tumbler. ‘Just like Alain. He’s the expert who keeps my father safe.’
    Trent turned to Alain. The bodyguard hadn’t moved since Philippe had stepped into the room. His large hands were buried deep inside his trouser pockets, tendons standing out like thick cords on his forearms. His jaw was clenched, his face betraying neither disapproval nor surprise.
    ‘You let him talk to you this way?’ Trent asked.
    ‘He’s the son of my employer.’
    ‘And if he wasn’t?’
    Alain relaxed for an instant. Just the idea of it gave him a wistful, faraway look.
    Trent returned his attention to Philippe. He folded his arms across his chest. Summoned his full height. He was just over six feet tall. Athletically built and physically fit. He couldn’t match Alain for physical presence but he could cut an imposing figure when the situation demanded it. Especially when the guy he was aiming to impose himself on was drunk or stoned. Especially when the guy in question was sitting down and Trent was standing up.
    ‘You need to drink some coffee,’ Trent told him. ‘You need to pay attention to what I’m about to say.’
    He waved a hand. ‘I listen better when I’m drunk. Believe me, it’s true. Here.’ He held out his glass. ‘Pour me some more.’
    Trent watched him for a beat, unmoving. The guy was a wreck. The Hawaiian shirt he had on was unbuttoned close to his navel, revealing a dense thatch of knotted blond hair. His stonewashed jeans were rolled at the cuffs over tanned shins and a battered pair of canvas espadrilles. His hair was an uncombed mess, he hadn’t shaved in days and the fleshy skin around his sunken eyes and blown pupils was discoloured and pouched.
    Philippe shrugged and returned his glass to his lips. He slurped the last of his whisky and tipped an ice cube into his mouth. He grinned a stupid grin, the cube clenched between his molars, like he was smiling around a fat cigar.
    Trent didn’t wait

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