3:15pm, local time, Port de la Galere, France, on the northern bank of the Mediterranean
The older gentleman pushed open the door, and slowly entered the restaurant. The sudden blast of air conditioning hit him, and he hesitated before continuing in. He appeared to be a fit man in his upper 60’s, dressed in a designer suit that was obviously custom tailored. Standing just under six feet tall, he leaned slightly upon a slender lion-headed cane, and favored his right leg when he walked. His silver hair, receding from his brow, was cut properly short, and combed back. He gave the young hostess a charming grin, and gestured towards the bar.
<No need to trouble yourself, darling. Someone’s expecting me.>*
*(translated from French)
He gingerly took the three steps down into the bar section of the restaurant, and stopped. Although the man’s back was towards him, there was no mistaking him. The older man moved over and took the stool next to the large man.
“Hello, James.” The older man spoke as he signaled to the bartender, his accent giving him away as British.
“Nigel.” The younger man responded with out looking up from his beer. His voice was strong, with just a hint of an accent placing his upbringing somewhere in the southwestern section of the United States.
The two men were dynamic contrasts. While Nigel wore custom suits, James was dressed in khaki pants, and a blue denim shirt with the sleeves rolled up onto his biceps. While Nigel was athletic for his age, the American was almost seven feet of solid muscles. His golden hair was laced into a French braid that reached halfway down his back. Nigel’s shoes were shined so well that they could be used as mirrors, while James’ khakis were tucked military style into the tops of hard worn jungle boots. Next to which, a sizable duffle rested.
After Nigel ordered his martini, and the bartender moved off to blend it, James glanced up. A sizable toothy grin split his countenance.
“It’s been a while old friend.”
“Merci.” Nigel thanked the barkeep, who upon delivery of liquid refreshment, toddled off. “You would never guess we shared the same blood.” He continued. “Look at you, it’s been what, over sixty years? You haven’t aged a day.”
“Clean livin’ I guess.” James replied. “Still, you seem to have aged well.”
“I may look great for my years, but nowhere near where we were. Still…”
He tossed a business card onto the bar. It was embossed with the Union Jack.
“I see you’ve got one to.” James then reached into his shirt pocket, and pulled out a card embossed with the Stars and Stripes. He then flipped it over, showing a series of coordinates, a date and time, and simply the word, ‘friend.’
“Any idea who sent it?” Nigel asked.
“Not a clue, but Lady Daphne received one as well.” James gestured over his shoulder.
Nigel turned, and noticed for the first time, a tall (woman) in a burqa sitting in the bar’s far corner booth. It was nearly impossible to see her there, as she seemed to be part of the shadows. Once you knew she was there, it was easier to see her, and that she was staring right at him.
“Seems someone is getting the old gang back together.” James continued, without turning. He finished his beer, and turned to Nigel. “Whoever they are, there’s no sign of our mystery host.”
He stood up, and then everything exploded.