Authors: G.K. Parks
The Warhol Incident
This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, events, and other concepts are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places, establishments, events, and locations is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without express written permission from the author.
Copyright © 2013 G.K. Parks
A Modus Operandi imprint
All rights reserved.
For Mom and Dad
Full-length Novels in the Alexis Parker Series:
Prequel Alexis Parker Novellas:
I was staring out the restaurant window completely mesmerized by the view.
“Like what you see?” James Martin asked from across the table.
I turned to him and smiled. I couldn’t help it. I was in full-on tourist mode tonight.
“Funny, I was going to say the same thing about you, Alexis,” Martin responded. He was still trying to win me over with his playboy demeanor and smooth words, and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. He sensed my displeasure at the comment and decided to select a more practical conversation topic. “Do you start work tomorrow?”
Yes, I have a meeting scheduled with the insurance executives, and I’ll take it from there.” Currently, I was Alexis Parker, international traveler.
xactly what is it you’re supposed to be doing?”
.” I made a face. “The details are limited, to say the least. Honestly, I think Evans-Sterling, the insurance company, just wants to make sure the painting I was hired to escort gets back safely, so they aren’t forced to issue a payout for any loss or damage.”
“How did some insurance company in
France even hear about you?” His forehead creased as he tried to work the details out in his mind.
“It’s not a French insurance company
. They’re international with offices all over the world. The owner of the painting is American. My guess is one of your board members may have mentioned my name since people of your status tend to travel in small circles,” I pointed out. Martin finally understood. “The real question,” I gave him a suspicious look, “is why you suddenly needed to take a trip to Paris which coincided so perfectly with my travel itinerary.”
“I needed to make sure the
Paris branch of Martin Technologies was operating efficiently. Plus, I’ve been hearing good things about my French counterpart. I might just have to offer him the VP spot since it is still available.” Martin was the consummate workaholic, so the fact he was globetrotting with me still seemed a bit suspect in my mind.
It had been a f
ew months since I worked as Martin’s personal bodyguard and security advisor. Over the course of several weeks, I had uncovered a conspiracy within his company. After exchanging gunfire with some contract killers and watching Martin almost bleed to death, his company kept me on retainer for their other security consulting needs. I opened my own small firm, thanks in large part to the money earned on that first private sector job, and now I was taking smaller, less dangerous jobs on the side.
“Well, you didn’t have to
let me fly over with you on the company jet. I was given a travel allowance.” Martin waved my protest away, which he often did.
but you have to admit, a private jet is much nicer than commercial business class. And the nuts are actually warm.” He smirked.
“I wouldn’t know,” I replied, “nor do I w
ant to know.” Martin chuckled, amused by his own play on words. For a brilliant, capable CEO, in his mid-thirties, he often reminded me of a teenage boy.
“Ready to get out of here?”
he asked, glancing at his watch. I nodded, and he called for the waiter, spoke perfect French to him, and paid the bill. We exited into the cool night air and strolled toward our hotel.
“Where’s Bruiser tonight?”
I asked while looking out over the Seine.
“I gave him the night off.
We are in Paris after all.” Martin expected some type of protest, but I remained silent. The city was too beautiful for an argument. “You do realize Bruiser really isn’t his name, right?” Bruiser was the nickname I insisted on giving his current full-time bodyguard.
“He’ll always be Bruiser to me.”
We reached our hotel and headed up in the elevator.
Catching a glimpse of our reflection in the mirrored doors, Martin was impeccably dressed as always, tonight in a black Prada suit, with his stylish dark brown hair, amazing good looks, and toned athletic build. Despite the jetlag, I was impressed how pulled together I appeared, wearing a black skirt, silk blouse, and the Jimmy Choo pumps Martin left in my possession from my previous stint working for him. My brown hair was pulled back and curled as it cascaded down my shoulders. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought we were a couple. Luckily, I knew better.
“Come up for a nightcap?” he queried.
that meeting in the morning,” I replied, “and mixed in with the jetlag, I’d probably sleep through the alarm and miss the entire thing.”
“You could stay with me tonight.
I’ll make sure you get up in the morning.” His green eyes sparkled.
Ha.” Martin was the ever-optimistic lothario. “I don’t date my boss, remember?”
t I’m not your employer anymore. Martin Technologies is, and I didn’t say anything about dating. I just asked you to stay the night, on the couch if you prefer. I remember how much you like to sleep on those.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “Fine,” his speech pattern became slightly more formal, “but there was something else I wanted to discuss with you. Business related, I promise.”
“Okay,” I cautiously agreed.
“You didn’t have to wait this long.”
ruin our weekly dinner, especially when we’re in this exotic locale?” He smiled. The elevator doors opened on my floor, and we both looked out into the hallway. “Plus, I want you to see the view from my room.” He pushed the close door button, and we continued the ascent to the penthouse suite. Classic Martin, I thought.
“Can’t you just tell me now?”
“What fun would t
The elevator doors opened
again, and we exited onto the top floor. He pulled out his room key and unlocked the door, holding it open so I could step inside. Walking into the incredibly large and lavish suite, I was awed by the magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower lit up in the night sky.
aybe the ride up to your room wasn’t a complete waste of my time,” I gave in, turning around to find him already pouring drinks from the mini-bar. “I’m not drinking.” He ignored my protest and mixed a martini for me and poured two fingers of scotch for himself.
“In case you change your mind.”
He brought the glasses over and handed them to me, so he could open the balcony door. We sat outside at the small table with our drinks. I was slowly spinning the glass on the tabletop, waiting for him to tell me what possible business agenda he needed my help with now. He leaned back and took off his tie, unbuttoning the first few buttons of his shirt a bit awkwardly, using only his left hand. Once he was situated, he picked up his scotch and took a sip.
I stared at him, waiting for him to begin.
“I was thinking,” he
began slowly, prolonging this as much as possible, “if you have the time, maybe you could give the Paris branch of Martin Tech the quick once-over. Make sure the place is secure, no obvious security leaks, and check out Luc Guillot and make sure he isn’t a murderous, conniving son-of-a-bitch before I offer him the VP position.”
“That can be arranged.”
Making a quick mental assessment, I tried to determine the most efficient way of doing things. “The painting isn’t being moved until the end of the week, so I can swing by tomorrow after my meeting, or…,” the time difference and jetlag were getting to me, “what’s today?”
“Okay, so Tuesday afternoon or Wednesda
y at the latest. When are you flying home?”
“Thursday or Friday, depending on how things go with Guil
lot. The Board has already granted permission to offer him the position, and they have the paperwork all ready to be signed. I’m just a bit reluctant.” Martin finished his drink, rubbing his right shoulder absently.
“Still going to physical therapy?”
“Uh-huh, it’s getting there slowly, but in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the patient type.” He smirked. “Then again, a follow-up surgery is always an option.” Picking up the martini and taking a larger gulp than I intended, I wanted to wash the images of Martin being shot and almost dying out of my mind.
“I’ll check into things
and give you my assessment of Monsieur Guillot by Wednesday evening.” I stood and headed toward the door, but I couldn’t just leave, not when we skirted the edge of the dangerous precipice that was our past history of death and mayhem. “Martin.” My voice was soft as I turned back to face him, but he was already up and behind me at the door. Our eyes locked.
“It’s okay,” he whispered int
o my ear, reaching around and pulling the door open. The closeness of his body to mine was almost intoxicating. I swallowed and turned, walking purposefully back into the hotel room.
“I’ll call you tomorrow after my meeting and let you know w
hen I can check out MT of Paris.” I headed for the door.
He was slightly distracted, pouring himself another drink.
at the door, I turned around. “Good night.”
ne nuit, Alex.” He winked as I hastily retreated.
My room seemed much smaller now.
Thanks a lot, Martin. I tossed my purse onto the table and kicked off my shoes. Turning on my laptop, I changed out of my clothes as the computer started up. Might as well run a background check on Guillot while it was fresh on my mind. I entered in the appropriate information and clicked the submit button, scanning through the information. Guillot had a few minor traffic violations, but nothing that screamed psychopath. Martin Tech was stringent in their hiring policies, but it never hurt to double-check these things. I sat, staring at the screen for a few minutes.
“The more you accomplish tonight, the less you have to do tomorrow,” I said
out loud to try to psych myself up because, at the moment, the only thing I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and sleep for a week. It was only eleven Paris time which meant it was five o’clock at home, but considering the fact I didn’t sleep on the flight or very much the night before, I had a legitimate reason to be exhausted. Performing a quick internet search on Guillot before going to bed was all I was willing to do at the moment. I checked some news sources and other websites for any type of scandal, but Luc Guillot appeared to be an upstanding, scandal-free citizen. I shut my computer and was getting ready for bed when there was a knock at the door.
ou’ve got to be kidding me,” I yelled. Opening the door, I expected to see Martin; instead, it was the hotel concierge.
“Madame, sorry to bother you so late,” the concierge apologized.
At least in French being called ma’am sounded classier. “This package was left for you and marked urgent. I thought it best to deliver it tonight.”
I took the package and handed the man a few Euros which were scattered on top of the dresser. Shutting the door, I stared suspiciously at the large manila envelope in my hands. My name was written on the front, but there was no other information provided about the sender or the contents. I opened the flap carefully. Paranoia had become my constant companion, probably given my previous career as a federal agent at the Office of International Operations. Luckily, nothing exploded.
I dumped the contents unceremoniously onto the table, I flipped on the floor lamp. The package came from the Paris office of Evans-Sterling and contained information on the painting, the owner, the insurance protocols and claims procedures, and proper methods of transportation. It was now midnight, and I needed to be well-versed on all of this by the morning. Settling down in the chair, I began reading and taking notes. By the time I finished, it was a little after three a.m. I set the alarm for seven and crawled under the covers.
t was 5:18. Damn time change, I cursed inwardly. I hadn’t slept at all, despite how tired I thought I was. I twisted and turned for another thirty minutes and finally gave up and dragged myself out of bed. Flipping the computer on, I did a more thorough search on Guillot; still nothing negative turned up. It was just barely after six when I got into the shower and dressed for the day. The plan was to get some caffeine pumping through my system as soon as possible. Heading for the small café across the street, I figured I’d have time to return to my room before leaving for my meeting at Evans-Sterling.
Finding a seat
at one of the outdoor tables, I ordered an espresso. As I waited for the server to return, I noticed Martin, head buried in a newspaper, seated a few tables over. I got up and went over to him.
“Give Bruiser the morning off, too?” I asked a bit mor
e combatively than necessary. Lack of sleep had the unfortunate side effect of making me bitchy.
“Alex?” Martin was surprised by my sudden ap
pearance. “No, he’s over there.” He jerked his head toward a larger man sitting a few tables away, bemusedly watching our exchange. I smiled at him and sat down across from Martin. “Someone’s up bright and early this morning.” Martin scrutinized my appearance. I really hate it when he does that. “Did you even go to bed?”