Chapter 5 Part 3

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Guyton liked his ritzy disguise. A touch of grey up top, but not a hair out of place. His face had a steely-eyed, commanding look, suggesting a past as a military officer. Or a police chief. The suit was perfectly tailored, and concealed the weapon that would put an end to Della Verne's operation.

"Call it a soul bakery," Andrea suggested. Her trophy wife disguise was perfect as well. Her dark red dress was the latest fashion—understated, but at the same time could have easily graced the red carpet at the Oscars. Somehow, she had even toned down that soulburn smell.

"Extracting the dough, mixing it... and then, the oven." Guyton grimaced, thinking about how close he had been to being in the oven himself. He glanced forward, but the limo driver had closed the glass to give them some privacy.

"So what are we going to do afterwards?" Andrea asked, giving him a dazzling smile.

"Tonight? I haven't thought that far ahead."

"I meant after we get Della Verne."

"Oh." Guyton lifted his hands. "I really haven't thought that far ahead. I guess I'll go back to hunting in clubs, unless Bi—my handlers give me another mission. I figure I have a lot—" he stopped as the limo pulled to the curb and the glass partition slid down.

"Mariner Club," the driver said. "You have my number, right? Call me when you're ready to leave. I won't be long."

The driver helped them out of the limo; they looked at each other and at the entrance. "Our first test," Guyton said, as the limo glided away behind them. "How do I look?"

"Perfect. Just stay in character, and you'll be fine. Let's enjoy this, okay?"

"I don't think I got diverted to enjoy myself. But it beats the alternative."

"You got that right," said Andrea. "Don't ask me how I know. C'mon."

Guyton gave the maitre'd their assumed names. The dapper man glanced at something on his raised desk, then nodded. "Right on time. Come with me, please." He led them to a quiet table, with water glasses and salads already awaiting them. "Our wine steward will be with you in a moment," he said, seating Andrea.

As the maitre'd left, a young but serious-looking woman brought an artfully-arranged goblet of jumbo shrimp and sauces, then left without a word.

"This salad is fantastic," said Andrea, digging in as daintily as she knew how.

"You can have mine," Guyton replied, already soaking his second shrimp in the melted butter.

"Hey, don't hog all those. I only had shrimp once in my life."

"Dang. Sorry. You can have the rest."

"Just leave me half, and I'll be fine," Andrea assured him. "We're doing the steak and lobster, right? I've never had lobster."

As they finished the first courses, a waiter approached their table and bowed. "The main course will be served shortly," he said. "If you wish, you may mingle with the other guests in the parlor room while our chef prepares it."

Guyton looked around as the waiter departed. Most of the tables were unoccupied. "Why not?" he opined. "We might get lucky. I was gonna just drive up—have the limo driver take us to church and hope for the best."

"When you wing it, you wing it," Andrea grinned. "Shall we? Here, let's take our wine."

The parlor room had a square stone pillar in its center; a gas fireplace adorned each side. Seats were scattered throughout the room, and all were occupied.

"Hello," a young man greeted them. "Have we met?" He gave his name.

Hell yes, we've met, Guyton thought. I busted you, back in my life. The young man, a scion of a wealthy family, had been a drunk and disorderly college student that particular night. Although he had also resisted arrest, Guyton had not administered the usual treatment to such perps—the chief had been on his ass to tone it down after the last one. It was one of the rare times he had been commended for his procedure. He figured the chief pocketed a hefty bribe to sweep the whole thing under the rug. "I'm not sure," he said. "Perhaps in your year after college? London?"

"I believe so!" the young man brightened, then turned to his gorgeous companion. "Anya, would you..." He looked at Andrea, raking her up and down with his eyes.

Anya gave Andrea a plastic smile and a gloved hand. "Let's give the boys some room to talk." She stopped a waiter and took two drinks from his tray before leading Andrea to a window.

"Anya's a good girl," said the young man, "although perhaps not quite on par with your own. Forgive me for saying so, but I don't believe I've seen you here before. Are you visiting?"

"Indeed I am. I flew in from Charleston yesterday. There are certain... opportunities here, and I'm planning to take advantage of them."

"Of course. May I ask what they might be?"

Guyton winked. "Ah, that would be telling, wouldn't it?" He paused, not long enough to let the other take offense. "But it has to do with real estate." He paused again. "I don't suppose you know anyone who might assist me?"

"Actually, I just might." He pulled out a planner. Guyton was surprised; he expected the young man to have his entire life on a smartphone... like everyone else. Of course. "Are you free this Sunday?"

It can't be that easy, Guyton thought. "At least through the morning. Longer, if the situation warrants."

"Then... you're not against setting foot in church, are you? Don't worry, the pastor takes good care of such as us. We have our own entrance and seating."

"Intriguing. Why don't you give me the details? It sounds like an excellent opportunity."

"Certainly." The young man flipped to a blank page and wrote quickly before tearing it out. "Have your people call this number. Give them my name as a referral. They'll make the arrangements."

"I'll do that," said Guyton.

"Dear, why did you never introduce me to this delightful couple before?" asked Anya, as Andrea took her place at Guyton's side.

"An oversight, I assure you," the young man answered. "But we'll be seeing more of them, very soon."

"Sir, madam." A waiter touched Guyton's elbow. "Your entree is served."

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