Fiona McMahon walked into the Cafe le Roma on Victoria Street in East Central London. Benjamin sat at a corner table with hands folded on the white tablecloth. Just like his father, she thought. How we miss dear William. She sat on the chair directly across from his so he could talk to her without taking his eyes from the door.
Without preamble he said, “She’s just down the block in a cosmetic clinic. They do major work there. Good people. Well qualified. Hellish expensive.”
She smiled, rested her gloved hand upon his. “In good spirits?”
“Thinking about a Greek nose, and enlarging the eye openings.”
She smiled. “Secure there?”
“Commander Conway’s people everywhere. I suppose that’s why he had her brought here. He’s got clout in London.”
“I won’t stay for lunch – too many people here. Any idea for whom the Commander is working?”
“He doesn’t really work for anyone nowadays. He acts as agent for governments, and the fuel people of course, but he seems to be much occupied with his own agenda now.”
She smiled at his earnestness; his father would be proud. “Try to get a handle on what he’s up to, and why he’s tracking Meira so closely.” She stood, touched his hand, and left. He picked up the menu.
Meira Meeting Ben in Paris
Meira strolled along the Champs-Elysées soaking in the soft morning Sun and inwardly hugging herself. She had much to tell Fiona, her mother, and much to do now she knew but, she paused, care was still needed, and Fiona still needed protection.
She returned to her apartment in Avenue Ledru-Rollin and made a call. An electronic voice asked her age when in Cairo, and again when in London. She was told to await a call. Later she was told to be in the bar of the Novotel near the Gare du Lyon for lunch. Benjamin was there.
She was so glad to see him again she wanted to rush up and hug him but, his hands were not on the table, he was looking down at what appeared to be an e-reader, a Kindle or a Sony Reader or some other electronic device. She turned, left the bar and walked out into the street. At the Gare du Lyon she called again from a public phone. Benjamin answered, “Fiona wants to see you but not here, not in Paris. Too many people know who you are and where you live. Rent a car and drive south, towards Toulouse, I will contact you when I’ve dealt with whoever’s following you so closely.”
Damn. She wanted to stay in Paris. She loved Paris with its elegant boulevards, spacious gardens and the riverbanks. She wanted to while away the hours with her mother beside the Seine over too much wine and too little walking. Damn whoever it was. She thought the Federation and the mad oil men had all taken a different tack nowadays. She thought they had turned their greed sodden eyes to monopolising the renewable industries. If it was them, why were they following? What could they possibly want in Syria? She was busy there – there was much to learn.
At the hotel La Réserve on the Route De Cordes, just outside Toulouse, she took a room with wonderful view of the River Tam. She would wait there: catch up on her reading; monitor the news from Syria a walk the riverbanks. It was a pleasant, peaceful, place and doubtless therapeutic, but after just one day as boring as BBC Radio Four and twice as frustrating. There wasn’t one presentable male among the staff and not one fellow guest under fifty-five years of age. The food was passable which, by French standards, was not acceptable.
After a second day and night she was approaching her screaming point; on the third her mind turned to Ben, to his continuing absence – doubts as to his safety began to arise. He was light, thin, quite nymph like, but lightning fast and had all his father’s instincts for sensing danger. She thought it unlikely that he had been hurt, but he had never before kept her waiting so long.
“Raymond IV of Toulouse” by Merry-Joseph Blondel
She focused on the Middle East – dedicated most of her time to monitoring the progress of the civil war raging in Syria, the unrest in Egypt, and the continuous exchanges between Israel and Palestine. She had spent many years studying the cultures and history of the area at school, and under her father’s, special, tutelage, but she had little time for any of that now. All that mattered now was to bring enlightenment and, in it’s glaring brightness, peace, to the people there. Raving clergy and despotic administrators continue to wreak misery on of the middle-eastern peoples – they had to be stopped. If she could bring the Ancients’ ways of food, and energy, production to the surface all the madness of the oil potentates and armament pedlars would wash away to the far recesses of history. The way forwards lay in the minds of the Matriarchs, but hers had yet to be unlocked. It had yet to be released to her immediate cognition and, to achieve that, she had to connect to the Ancients’ world.
Meeting Fiona in Toulouse
Fiona was in the garden, on an iron bench overlooking the Tam. Excited, Meira hurriedly sat beside her. “This is a nice surprise.”
Her mother turned, looked long at her daughter, “Love the new face darling. Wow, look at Grandma’s eyes.” She turned her head this way and that to take in every new feature. “Um, like the nose . . . yes, and sculptured cheek bones.”
“Thank you. Those London doctors did a nice job ay? I’d already given up changing my name after every encounter with the oil men because, I thought, they’d moved on. This,” she turned her face to the light, “pushes away immediate recognition, don’t you think?”
“I do think. I think you look even more beautiful.” She patted her hand. “My lovely daughter.”
“Can you stay? I so wished I could have come to you in Paris. I so love Paris, and our walks.”
“Ben is keeping watch, so yes; yes we can have some time together here but be ready.”
“Always. I’m always ready to disappear.”