Their conversation had been brief. He showed up 24 hours later. Even though he was dressed, somewhat casually, a blazer and jeans, he looked important. I assumed that was a look he had practiced for a long period. When you’re a power broker, you want to look powerful, but not too much so. You still want those you control to think they are in charge.
“Madame Prime Minister, I’m glad you are well. How can I be of service?” She smiled, and motioned him in. “You can have lunch with me.” He gave a slight bow, Miles Cote was somewhat of a showman, and came inside. Augustus and I set on the sofa, he knew we were there, it was no use trying to hide. Jean Luc had positioned himself in the corner near them, on top of a side table.
They made small talk until the dessert came, and then Miles Cote sighed. “I had hoped this was going to take less time, but I have an appointment in twenty minutes. “Why not stop sparring and be precise?” Apparently, they both had been waiting on the other to attack first. “I was just waiting to see if I can force César to lose his patience. Apparently I’ve won the first one.”
She smiled so sweetly, he just laughed. “You are poised, I’ll give you that. How can I be of service?” I had been given orders not to speak, no matter what. It was very difficult, as smug as he was. “I would very much like not to have to worry about explosions, whether physical, or political. What price will my life cost me?”
He laughed. “Politics is an ailment. In my business, it’s a malady you wish to encourage, not cure. Still, this is one of the most wearisome side effects for a man in my profession. I constantly have to put up with politicians who assume I want them dead. Fortunately, they can rarely figure out when the sickness is true or imagined.”
I watched her reaction at this, it was ever so slight, but it was there. The Prime Minister tensed up, and I resisted the instinct to attack him. Jean Luc made a very low growl, a warning shot. Then, the Prime Minister’s face relaxed. “So, you’re saying I’m in no physical danger. Why do you not want me to die?”
“Madame Prime Minister, I don’t want to kill you, only control you. The person I want dead doesn’t even know it. I’m afraid that you won’t find out either, until it is much too late. What I offer is this. If you will agree to make two phone calls, I will not only let you live, I will allow you to keep your job.”
“First, tell me where I’m calling.” His voice never changed, but the room suddenly felt rigid. “One is to my office, and the other is the White House. Two four minute phone calls is a small price to pay to continue too, well just to continue. Isn’t it?”