MEN OF MYSTERY
He was the last to arrive. After unpacking and changing clothes, Claussen joined the others for dinner. He unfolded his dinner napkin and placed it on his lap, looked around the table, and wondered why he had ever allowed himself to feel intimidated by the three men sitting with him. He worked hard to cloak a feeling of smugness.
“I could buy and sell them all—well, maybe not Winston.” A slight smile curled on his lips.
He speared a piece of stewed elk and lifted it to his mouth. Chewing slowly, he savored the flavor, infused with a juniper-and-cranberry reduction. He reached for his glass of wine. Charles had nodded in approval earlier when his host, Winston Overstreet, told the server to decant the bottles in advance of the meal.
Charles loved to play at matching knowledge of wine with his host. “Hmm,” he mused. “I taste red cherries and oak, with a hint of olives and smoke. Wonderfully complex, I would say.”
Charles Claussen looked at the four bottles of Chateau Petrus Pomerol on the table, one in front of each place setting. He looked at the label, knowing Winston could only have found the rare 1961 vintage by special order or at auction—along with a price tag of close to $4,000 a bottle.
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