The girl entered, bearing a modest stack of mail, and he saw she wore dark red, high-heel shoes. What was it the American women called them? Ah, yes. Fuck-me pumps. He smiled and wondered if he could persuade her to keep them on in bed.
“Ah,” he said, “here we are. Please sit down.”
She waited until he sat down behind his desk then perched on the edge of the chair across from him. When he smiled at her again, her face stayed immobile. Well, some of them liked to put up a business-like front.
He watched as she took a large, sealed envelope from the stack of mail she carried. The rest, she set aside.
“I think you should open this first,” she said.
“My dear, isn’t that your job?” he said, teasing.
“When you open it you’ll see why I didn’t.”
Now, this was intriguing. Was this perhaps some little game she played? Well, the door to the office did lock.
He had no letter opener and had to find his scissors in the desk drawer to cut open the envelope, then he spilled the contents onto his desk. Photographs, it seemed, a dozen or more. He turned them over to view the top one and felt his heart lurch.
The Ambassador dropped the photos as if they’d burned his hands. He pushed his chair away from the table, and Mai Fisher was fascinated by the abrupt appearance of sweat on his face—a slick more than a sheen.
Mai stood, picked up the stack of photographs, and placed them one-by-one on the desktop, arranged so the Ambassador could see them. When she looked at him again, she saw that he wept.
“These are your copies,” she said. “I have the originals and the negatives, and if I don’t return to my office by the close of business today, copies will go to The Sun. Your king could see them by tomorrow. He’s a long-time subscriber.”
“Wh-who are you?”
“That’s irrelevant. Do I have your attention?”
He jerked to his feet and stepped toward her, stopped by the large desk between them. His face contorted to the point where he wouldn’t be recognized as the handsome, older man in the photographs.
“I demand to know who you are!” he shouted.
“Sit down,” she said.
His hands, fingers bent and clutching at air, came up. “I will kill you, you bitch, you whore. I will…”
Mai drew her gun and leveled it at his head. “I said sit down.”
The hands clenched into fists, but he sat, or rather, slumped in his chair, his glare hostile.
“That’s better,” Mai said. She holstered her gun and re-seated herself.
“What is the price for all the copies of this, this garbage?” he asked, one hand flicking toward the arrayed photos.
“It’s a simple price, really, but there’ll be no exchange of goods.”
“Then, I will not cooperate until I can be assured I will get the originals, the negatives, and all copies.”
Mai gave him a hint of a smile. “I’m going out on a limb here and assume you don’t want your government or your family to see these pictures. Adultery in your country is punishable by death, or is that only women who are executed for it?”
“No, that was the woman in the photos.”
She saw him pale, so much so she thought he might faint, but he shook his head, then took out a handkerchief and mopped his forehead and eyes.
“She is no whore,” the Ambassador said.
“I beg to differ. She did exactly what we paid her to do.”
“Who do you work for?”
Mai smiled and relaxed in the chair. “That’s need to know, Mr. Ambassador.”
“What did you do to Annette to make her do this?” he demanded.
“Oh, she was happy to volunteer. You thought she was French, but you’d be half right. Her father was French, but her mother was from your country. You knew her mother quite well. She was your half-sister, whom you and your brothers murdered thirty years ago in France.”
“Yes. Annette’s father made certain she understood her mother had been the victim of an honor killing and who had been responsible.”
“Impossible. My sister didn’t have a child.”
“She did. She and her husband managed to hide that because they were afraid your family would drag her back to your homeland and force her to marry when she was twelve, like your sister.”
“My sister was an adulterer. She deserved to die.”
“You, sir, are an adulterer as well, and the Quran forbids incest. Annette is your niece, after all.”
“How dare you speak of the Holy Quran! You have no understanding of my religion…”
“No, I don’t, and I’m glad. Anyway, Annette agreed to do this for justice.”
“Justice? Justice? I’m the one who has been done an injustice. Lied to and blackmailed by whores.”
“Annette wanted justice for her mother, whom you murdered when she was three, you bastard.”
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