Chapter 00: The meeting

London, in the late afternoon. A Rolls-Royce Phantom VII parked in front of one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. A few seconds later, the driver got out of the car and went to open one of the rear doors. A middle-aged man dressed in a black suit, over six feet tall, and holding a briefcase, on the one hand, appeared. It was David Linch, a 47-year-old businessman known in the financial world as the « Great Black Shark, » a nickname he earned for his habit of wearing only black suits, and also because of his ferocity.

David Linch, who had just returned from an important meeting during which he had managed to secure an equally important business deal, walked through the doors of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park with a wry smile. The interior of the eleven-floor building was extravagantly luxurious, with decorations reminiscent of those found in some European castles. The businessman took the white marble stairs that led to the elevators, then called one of them. When the doors opened, David stepped inside and pressed the button marked with number 3.

The « Great Black Shark » got out of the elevator and walked down the hallway before stopping in front of room number 305. He put his hand in the inside pocket of his jacket to retrieve a magnetic card that he inserted into the reader. With the door now unlocked, David Linch was able to step inside.

Like the rest of the building, the room was no exception to the rule of luxury. The businessman walked over to the leather end of the bed and placed his briefcase on it. He then removed his tie and unbuttoned two buttons on the top of his shirt. He then tossed the piece of fabric onto the bed before heading to the bathroom. There, he looked at himself in the mirror.

            “You did it again, dude. You’re the best. Nothing can stop you,” he said while pointing his finger at his reflection.

Mr. Linch was clearly very proud of himself. He had just won a new contract that would make him earn millions of pounds. After almost a minute of congratulating himself, the businessman returned to his room and went to stand in front of one of the windows. He stood there for a few dozen seconds, watching the passers-by in the street.

While he was still looking at the landscape, Mr. Linch’s stomach started to rumble, which came at the right time. What the businessman enjoyed most after a busy day at work was a good meal. He turned around, grabbed the magnetic card that he had left on one of the pieces of furniture after entering the room, and headed to the exit. Back in the hallway, David went back to the elevator doors, then to the hotel restaurant.

—–*—–

When David Linch arrived at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park restaurant, he asked for a table. One of the employees took care of that and led him there a few seconds later. The businessman sat down and opened the menu in front of him while the young man beside him waited patiently for his order.

“What would you like, sir?” he asked.

Mr. Linch continued to peruse the contents of the menu before giving him his answer a few dozen seconds later.

“I’ll take a Wagyu steak and a bottle of your most expensive wine,” he replied.

The waiter carefully wrote down his order on his notepad and then left for the kitchen, in order to pass it on to the chef. Meanwhile, the businessman put his hand in the inside pocket of his jacket and retrieved his cell phone. When he unlocked it, an image of himself with a woman and two children appeared. He lowered the notification bar to see the various messages he had received. None of them were from his wife.

Less than a minute later, while he was still checking his email, a new waiter arrived at his side, holding a tray with a glass and the bottle of wine he had previously requested. It was a Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac, one of the best wines in France.

“This is our most expensive bottle of wine, sir,” said the young man.

The hotel employee uncorked the bottle before pouring some of its contents into the glass located in front of David.

“Thank you very much,” retorted the businessman.

David Linch took out a 50-pound bill from his wallet and gave it to the young man after the latter had placed the bottle of wine on the table. He thanked him for the gesture and went back to take care of other customers. The « Great Black Shark » grabbed his glass and stirred it gently. Then he smelled the red liquid and took a sip.

“Really excellent!” he exclaimed at the taste of his wine.

Another hotel employee arrived several minutes later with the dish he had ordered in his hands. The employee placed it on the table, wished David a wonderful meal, and then left to take care of other guests as well. Mr. Linch grabbed his cutlery and began to eat his rare steak. After a few bites, he took another sip of wine before continuing to eat his meal.

Twenty minutes later, David Linch finished the contents of his plate. He then proceeded to enjoy the rest of his Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac while observing the other customers in the restaurant. It was then that his eyes fell on a young woman sitting alone at the bar. She had brown hair, generous curves, and was about one meter seventy. She was also dressed in a beautiful red dress that hugged the shape of her body beautifully.

At the sight of this beautiful creature, one of the bad aspects of David Linch’s personality resurfaced. He removed the wedding ring from his finger and placed it in the inside pocket of his jacket. He then waved to one of the waiters in the room.

“What can I do to be of use to you, sir?” asked the employee once he was at the businessman’s side.

“Do you see that young woman dressed in red?” he retorted, pointing in the direction he should look at.

The waiter slowly turned around to see who this important customer was talking about. He then saw the young lady who was standing alone at the bar.

“Yes, sir. Would you like me to give her a message for you?”

“Sort of. I’d like you to buy her a drink and tell her it’s from me,” replied Mr. Linch, discreetly handing her a hundred-pound bill.

“It will be done as you wish, sir,” he said while taking the money.

The employee left David and went to the bar where he called the bartender and whispered a few words in his ear. The bartender then looked in the direction of the « Great Black Shark » and nodded. He got to work and served the young woman a new drink. When the bartender put a new glass filled with alcohol in front of her, the young woman was surprised and told him that she had not ordered it. The man answered that it came from another customer.

“Which one?” she asked.

The employee then pointed out the location of the person who had offered her the drink. The young lady turned around and met her gaze with that of David Linch. She took advantage of this short moment to analyze the style of clothing of the one who had just offered her a new glass of alcohol. By seeing that the latter wore clothes of mark, she sketched a light smile, what Mr. Linch took as a positive sign.

The young woman then grabbed the glass, got up from her seat, and walked towards Mr. Linch.

“Good evening. Is this seat taken?” the young woman asked, even though the answer was obvious.

“No, not at all. You can sit down,” replied the businessman.

At his invitation, the young lady grabbed the chair and pulled it back slightly before sitting down.

“How shall I address you?” she asked again.

“Linch. You can call me David Linch,” the businessman said.

“Well, David, nice to meet you. Yasmine Ferra is the name I answer to,” she retorted afterwards.

The young woman presented her hand to Mr. Linch, and he gently grabbed it before giving her a kiss, which she found somewhat peculiar. He then told her what a “pleasure” it was to make the acquaintance of such a beautiful young lady.

“You flatter me, Mr. Linch,” she said, feeling slightly embarrassed.

“I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable. I just have a very bad habit of saying out loud what I think, especially when I find myself in the presence of a woman as beautiful and charming as you,” he retorted, releasing Yasmine’s hand.

Miss Ferra took a sip of the glass which had been offered to her under the very attentive glance of the man sat in front of her. She then put the transparent object on the table and continued the conversation.

“But tell me, Mr. Linch, what do you do for a living?”

David was not at all surprised by her question. From the moment he noticed the way she had looked at him while still sitting at the bar, he knew she would ask him that sooner or later. He grabbed his glass, smelled the sweet scent again, drank a small amount of the wine in it, and put it back.

“I wish I could tell you, but that would be too easy. Why don’t you try to guess it?” he replied with a sly smile on his lips.

“Guess it, you say?”

“That’s right. In our society, being able to read others is a great advantage,” he added.

Miss Ferra accepted Mr. Linch’s challenge and, for a minute or two, observed him carefully from head to toe. Finally, she gave him an answer.

“From your very well-groomed appearance and expensive clothes, I would say you are either a movie star or a very important businessman. I’d go with the CEO of a company. The second option seems the most plausible,” she said.

“Why is that?” asked Mr. Linch, intrigued.

“It’s very simple. If you were really a celebrity, there would have been a lot of reporters looking for shots of you outside the hotel, but that’s not the case. So, I took the liberty of ruling out that possibility,” she replied.

“Your analysis is remarkably interesting, and I must admit that I am very impressed. You’re right, I’m not a celebrity by any means. I’m more in the finance business as the CEO of APEX, an investment fund,” he said.

The businessman gave her a few more details about his activities, as well as one of the business cards that he always carried in one of his pockets.

Mr. Linch signaled again to one of the waiters and asked him to bring them a new bottle, the one he had just about to finish. While the waiter went to get it, the businessman and Miss Ferra got to know each other better.

“So, Mrs. Ferra, what do you do for a living?” he asked her in turn.

“Nothing very concrete at the moment. To tell you the truth, I have just started a career in the cinema if you can call it that. However, I haven’t had any major roles yet, just some extras. Though, I keep looking,” she replied.

“That’s great and admirable of you. If life has taught me anything, it’s that you shouldn’t give up, that you should pursue your goals to the end. As long as you fight, you can accomplish anything,” he said.

“You are absolutely right. Nothing is impossible for the one who perseveres,” she continued.

The waiter finally arrived with a new bottle of wine. He also uncorked it and poured the red liquid into the glasses of the two people. He left it on the table and left after having wished a good tasting to David and Yasmine. Once they were alone again, they resumed their conversation at the exact point where they had left off.

To be continued !!!

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