Today's Reading

"She already has plans." A well-dressed gentleman, no more than a few years older than my twenty-six, stepped between Phil and me. "Miss Blake, I'm Henrik Zoltan's driver. I'm here to pick you up for your lunch meeting."

It was a struggle to keep my brows from lifting. I hadn't spoken to Henrik since my return from the capital, but I was certain we hadn't anything scheduled. Henrik Zoltan was an illustrious movie producer and director. A soft-spoken, middle-aged Hungarian, he was responsible for several propaganda films, boosting the morale of a battle-wearied country.

He was also a spy.

My mouth slanted into a smile. "I must've forgotten. How silly of me." 

"The Henrik Zoltan." Phil's eyes widened. "You're not going to sign a contract with him, are you?" His voice lowered. "What about the plans for our sequel?" An admirable job of keeping the desperation from his tone, but he failed to keep it from his eyes.

I shrugged. "It's only lunch."

Phil led me aside, shooting skeptical glances at Henrik's driver. His voice dipped even more. "Henrick Zoltan's a Hungarian. You can't trust foreigners."

"So I can't trust you?" I asked in a chipper tone, which only made the confusion on his face all the more satisfying.

"But... I'm American."

"And I'm Swedish." I gave his tie a playful tug. "Which makes you a foreigner to me."

He breathed a laugh. "I forget you're not from here. You fit in so naturally."

That wasn't always the case. The move to America had been more difficult than I imagined. All the hours with a voice coach to strip the accent from my tongue. Lonely evenings and holidays because my sole family member stubbornly remained in Stockholm. And now a global war separated me from reaching her. "I shouldn't keep Henrik waiting."

After a swift change from my gown to a smart dress suit, I followed the hired driver outside to where a Plymouth sedan sat idling.

The rear passenger door opened, and cigar smoke billowed out in lazy plumes.

I leaned down, peering into the haze. "Have you come to challenge me to another game of billiards?"

"No." His eyes narrowed behind his glasses. "Hop in, Amelie. We've much to discuss."

I lingered an extra second, inflating my lungs with a fortifying breath, then lowered onto the plush seat. "Much to discuss?" I asked when the driver shut the door. "I don't remember planning this little tête-à-tête."

Henrik tapped his stogie on a bronze ashtray on the seat beside him with two decided raps. "We'll talk in a few moments." Then he shifted his gaze out the window, puffing on his cigar as if it were his only source of company.

The car left the studio lot. I itched to question him, but that wasn't how Henrik operated. He would only speak when ready. So as the car's cabin plugged with smoke because Henrik wouldn't crack a window, my mind filled with questions. Block by block we moved almost in a crawl, Henrik taking drags on his cigar, me waving a hand about my airways, hoping he'd catch a hint. He didn't.

Unlike most wealthy producers, Henrik wasn't flashy. Thin-wired spectacles perched upon a knobby nose. A suit, the shade of a mud puddle, stretched over a paunchy frame. One would peg him as a languid fellow who spent the day on a park bench tossing breadcrumbs to pigeons. Dull. Unassuming.

But Henrik Zoltan was shrewd, multilingual, and no doubt neck-deep in covert activities. Something I'd discovered when he'd approached me last month.

The driver pulled onto a lot beside a café I'd never visited and promptly got out of the car. But instead of opening my door, he strolled to a cluster of outdoor tables on the far side of the building and sat.

With the chauffeur gone, Henrik slowly faced me. "Let us talk here.

When we're finished, we'll have lunch."

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