Welcome Home, Jacques Roth
Claudine Demaureux-Roth was sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace of her New York apartment. With the aid of a warm fire, her second glass of wine, and a good book, she was trying not to think about Jacques. She had not heard from him in four days. His last call had been the night before his trip to Wyoming. Why hasn’t he called me? she thought. Has something gone wrong?
The sudden sound of the ringing phone jarred her out of her thoughts. Who would be calling at this hour other than Jacques? Claudine was relieved to hear his voice, but she barely had time to speak; he delivered a short message: “My train arrives late tomorrow night. Please don’t meet me at the station. I’ll grab a cab and come to the apartment. Once I get there, I’ll explain everything. Right now, I’ve got to go.” And with that the line went dead.
Claudine knew something must be very wrong. It wasn’t like Jacques not to call for four days and then be so brief.
It was 9:30 the next night when Jacques’s train finally pulled into Grand Central Station. The platform leading to the station was virtually deserted. Jacques watched the last passengers disembark, waiting until they had proceeded well along the platform before he stepped from the train. So far so good. Nobody seems to be following me. But could someone be waiting in the station?
Taking his time to make his way through the lightly populated depot, he slowly walked toward the exit to Forty-Seventh Street, hailed a cab, and watched to see whether anyone appeared to be tailing him. He instructed the cabdriver to make several turns, only giving him the address of his final destination once he was convinced none of the cars behind them were following his path.
Standing near the opening of an alley across the street from the entrance to his apartment building, Jacques spent another half hour making certain that no one was watching him or the apartment. The weather had turned cold and it had begun to rain. By the time he proceeded across the street, he was soaked through and half frozen. For the first time in several days he allowed himself the luxury of thinking about his warm, beautiful, sensuous new wife.
Not having a key and not absolutely clear on the number of their new apartment, Jacques selected a number that seemed familiar, pushed the button, and hoped it was the right one. Almost immediately, the door buzzed.
Exiting the elevator on the fourth floor, he turned right and proceeded down the hallway, inspecting the numbers next to the doors he passed. Glancing ahead, he saw that the door of their apartment was ajar. When he pushed it open, he found Claudine standing in the entrance, dressed in three-inch spike heels, a fur coat, a long strand of pearls, and her most mischievous grin. Her silvery blonde hair was done up in a French twist, accentuating her height. Her turquoise eyes shone like bright spotlights out of her perfectly chiseled Nordic face.
With her left hand, she slowly opened the coat, revealing her nakedness. “Like the pearls?” she asked. With her right hand she handed him a glass of champagne. “How about giving your girl a big hug and a long kiss, getting out of those wet clothes, and taking a long hot shower with an old friend? Welcome home, cowboy.”
Twenty minutes later, Jacques was totally immersed in the charms of his beautiful, affectionate wife, made all the more enjoyable by copious amounts of hot water and foamy soap. The cooling water signaled the rapidly approaching conclusion to what had been an amazing greeting. Not wanting to lose the moment, he brushed a strand of wet hair from her forehead and said, “The warmth of the hearth beckons.”
After they’d dried off and returned to the living room, Jacques poured them a second glass of champagne and gently laid Claudine down in front of the fire.
Staring down at this magnificent woman, her skin glowing with the light of the fire, he asked, “Does this remind you of a certain night in a small cabin in the Swiss Alps?”
“How could it not?” Claudine answered, beckoning him toward her with an index finger.
As he carefully lowered himself onto her, he looked down into her blue-green eyes. I’ve always heard that a woman’s eyes were the window to her soul, he thought. Does she really feel what Iam seeing?
Half an hour later, he whispered into her ear, “Claudine, we have to make a choice. We can lie here and freeze to death, or I could put another log on the fire while you find us a blanket and pour us another glass of champagne.”
“I know what kind of a log you want to put on the fire!” she said. “Let’s sit on the couch and you can talk to me. While you’ve been traipsing around the Rocky Mountains catching fish, I’ve been here all by myself with nobody to talk to. I’ll get us that blanket while you put a real log on the fire and open a bottle of the Bordeaux you left in your apartment.”
Settled on the couch under the warm blanket and enjoying the fine wine, Jacques finally began to explain what had happened during his trip.
“It wasn’t until mid-afternoon that it became evident the men in the river were interested in doing more than fishing. I was lucky to get away. The question is, were they able to identify me or follow me when I left Casper? I still don’t know, but it took three days and five trains before I finally arrived at Grand Central.”
Sensing her alarm, he continued, “Don’t worry too much—even after I arrived at the station, I took every precaution to make certain that no one was waiting for me or followed me here. For a half an hour before I pushed the buzzer, I was standing across the street observing. But now that we know Big Oil has had their meeting, we have to assume their plans are under way. The Sentinels need to learn a lot more about what they’re planning—and a whole lot more about the oil industry. We have a lot of ground to cover before we can formulate a plan of our own.”Available June 2011 everywhere books are sold.
Available June 2011 everywhere books are sold.
Available to the trade through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and directly from Greenleaf Book Group (800-932-5420)
ISBN: 978-1-60832-143-8, Hardcover, Fiction/Thrillers