Chapter 23 - The Meeting

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The door to the outside of the flat was quickly opened and a hand grabbed Robert's arm and pulled him out. He had only a moment to register two large blokes, a wide hallway, and an open doorway in front of him before he was shoved through it. The door was closed behind him and locks were turned.

It was a large room about the size of the sitting room set up like a study. Moreau was standing next to a fireplace where a fire was burning with his hand on the mantle. A round table with two chairs was in the center of the room with some bottled water and glasses on it. There were mullioned windows like the ones in the flat with the thick pine forest in the background. He saw the bars on the other side of the panes of glass. He looked behind him and saw a large bloke standing near the door. He looked like a bouncer. The bastard made certain he had security, Robert thought.

Just like the other times he'd seen him, Moreau was dressed in an expensive suit with his hair slicked back. He looked at Robert with his steely, deep set eyes, wearing an air of authority and power. Robert fought the urge to lunge at him and put his hands around the man's throat.

"Robert! What a delight to see you again!" he said heartily. Robert kept quiet, working hard to keep his face impassive. His seething hatred of the bastard was threatening to overwhelm him. He focused on what he came there to do and tried to push the rage down. He had to stay in control for Georgie's sake.

Moreau gestured to the table and, after Robert sat down, joined him. Robert's mouth was suddenly dry and after a hesitation, he opened a bottle, poured some water, and took a quick drink. Moreau waited for him.

Robert pushed his hair out of his eyes, suppressed the urge to take a deep breath, and started. "Before we begin, I want to give you my word that Georgie didn't ask me to say what I'm going to say. She doesn't know why I'm here."

Moreau nodded, his face unreadable.

"I give you my word that she doesn't know anything about this, because I want you to give me your word that you won't say anything to her about it. I don't want her to know what's said between us – today, or any other time we discuss this."

Moreau suddenly smiled at Robert with his smug grin, saying, "Well, well, Robert! I must say, you are being very intriguing. But I have to ask you – why would you take my word on anything?"

Because I don't have any choice, you fucking bastard, Robert thought, but he was ready for the question and answered in a mild voice, "Because you gave me your word I wouldn't be harmed while I was here, and you've kept it. And you said you would give me what I needed to be comfortable, and I don't have any complaints so far." He hated having to suck up to him. There was silence while the bastard looked at him, smiling his smug smile.

Finally he said, "You don't want me to tell her? Very well, you have my word."

Robert searched his eyes but got nothing. "Your word as a gentleman?" The irony of the word was not lost on him.

"Yes, Robert. My word as a gentleman," he replied with a sigh, as if he was bored.

Robert held his hand out to shake on it.

Moreau was surprised and then laughed at Robert before giving him a quick handshake. Both of them squeezed very hard.

He wanted to make the bastard think twice before going back on it. He knew the man would be cruel enough to taunt Georgie, telling her all about it and he hoped this would protect her from finding out. It was all he could do.

"There's one more thing before I begin. What I'm going to say could make you angry. I want your word of honor you won't punish Georgie for it. She doesn't know anything about it, and I don't want her to suffer because I said something you didn't like."

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