Heat. Gentle heat. It seeped into Mark's bones and he let the humidity lull him into a dull sense of relaxation. Ever since his father had taught him to look for clues, he had a strange affinity for danger. He could see it coming, he could feel it in his bones but he never seemed to fear it. It invigorated him.
The smell or rather, stench, of perfume assailed him as the woman to his right diagonally, patted a boyish haircut into regimented neatness. Her heart shaped face had a distinct youth to it, like she was too young but she held herself like a woman, not a girl. Gold lace enveloped her arms and her lips were covered with the tiniest of glosses, all but invisible to the eye.
Mark never dwelled more than needed on the examination of a person, so he flicked his eyes away and stared at the black sky. It seemed darker than usual and oppressive. The waiter laid down a glass plate of dates and Arabic coffee. Mark tipped him and smiled politely.
By now, if his dad was here, he'd be talking loudly about some ruins in the desert or urging Mark to smoke a fat cigar which never seemed to finish. It merely hung in his dad's hands like a hot needle. But it was quiet and the woman who was sat down had taken a deep and shocking interest to him.
She lifted her glass of black tea and smiled the lightest of smiles in his direction. Mark flinched imperceptibly and thought about moving. No...that'd be misconstrued as rudeness of the highest order. Stay where you are.
He stayed. She didn't.
She stood up and walked over fixed with her smile, ready to dazzle him with some obscure greeting. A lock of caramel blond hair fell endearingly over one eyebrow, out of shape and she tried to move it.
"Is anyone seated here?" she asked, grabbing the back of one chair and taking immediate and decisive ownership of it. Mark studiously ignored her and tapped buttons on his smartphone. She cleared her throat and he looked up.
"Oh...sorry what?" he smiled and tried to look bashful and shocked all at once. If it convinced her, she didn't say. Despite this, he had made his point: You are not welcome.
She smiled, a little forced this time and her boyish face lit up albeit mutedly, like a dim light. "Is anyone sitting here?"
"No," he looked at her and raised an eyebrow. She dropped into the chair and took out a little mirror. Mark took this opportunity to look away and study the people in the cafe.
A Frenchman with spectacles reading a magazine.
A woman and her husband dying to go back to their room.
A surly British man with lots of fat on his face.
It was a mix that one would see--
"So...I'm Carey," the woman cut into his thoughts savagely. Mark frowned in irritation. He should have booked a cheaper hotel. He knew it. Expensive hotels always had marauding women who stared and jigged and poked at your defences.
"Mark..." he smiled and one side of his mouth lifted. She nodded.
"Order me something..." she said. Mark gaped. Who the hell did she think she was? More importantly, who the hell did she think he was?
"You decide..." she smiled again, it seemed to be her favourite expression, even though it did suit her rosy face.
Mark ordered and the waiter left. Carey found herself staring at a steaming cup of mint tea after a minute or two and she frowned.
"No wine? Champagne?" she complained at Mark.
"Who are you?" asked Mark. He had decided that keeping his suspicions in check would get him nowhere, so he thought he may as well face the problem head on. Carey faltered and shrugged.
The cafe was quiet now. The distant traffic noise had died down and the heat gave way to slight cool breezes. The silence would have been nice but for Mark it had a sudden cause for concern and suspicion. Treachery itself seemed to throb in the night air.
"Carey...I'm on holiday...you looked nice," she said trying to gloss over with a silly explanation. She thought the flattery would give him time to laugh and forget. It didn't.
"A scorpion looks nice too, you don't see people touching them and kissing them," Mark's riposte was acerbic at best and he felt tired. Carey flinched.
She looked at his polo shirt with the sewed on number five, the distressed jeans with stitches out and the dark hair which had no discernable style to it. Yes, he very much fit in here. Anonymous, rich and possibly dangerous beyond belief.
Hanging around in dubious locations hadn't worked so far but maybe she had it now. She'd be approached. It was only a matter of time. After all, she knew exactly who she was talking to.
Mark Drave, son of Vincent Drave. Sometime gambler, heavy drinker, diamond dealer and now retired away somewhere. But the past...it always catches up with you.