Jak Arrives in Arrivals

Arrival halls can be noisy and confusing places. Jak is confused more than most after his rather unfortunate incident en route.

[novel extract: “The only information I heard was to tell us that we had arrived at Terminal 1 and to collect any luggage from Carousel 1. There was also something mentioned about taking a shuttle bus outside the terminal, but I was expecting someone to meet me.
“It was quite funny though because I forgot that I had no booked luggage. So I stood with other passengers who had gathered around the Carousel waiting for their bags. I had a splitting headache and can remember staring for at the ugly orange and white pillars before realizing that I only had carry-on bags.

“Feeling rather stupid, I turned and walked toward the exit, still unsure where I was. In front of me I saw a flight attendant being pushed along in a wheelchair. Then I looked at the row of signage boards being held up. By this time my head hurt even more and I realized that I might have concussion.”

“So,” Sasha asked, “was your friend there to meet you?” ]

In some bizarre way, after arriving, this is where Jak meets his jealous rivals!

Le Musée Masséna

David thinks he is being followed as he makes his way on foot towards the Negresco hotel via the back roads of Nice. At one point, a car pulls alongside him, and a camera is pointed his way. However, David is sure that it is just a tourist – or is it?

[novel extract: “All good,” he thought when he finally reached Le Musée Masséna. Its lush vegetation looked welcoming and he was pleased that the gardens were still open and much less crowded than the busy streets. He used the shortcut through the grounds, taking time to admire the tall trees and rich-green, mature magnolias.

At the front of the ornate museum the ‘red, white and blue’ French flag struggled to unfurl fully, while a group of children played happily on the soft lawn – enjoying a game with a ball and some sticks. It was a pleasant oasis from the relentless roar of rush-hour traffic, so David sat for a while on one of the garden benches under the cool shade of a grove of sub-tropical palms.

“It’s so nice to relax in these quiet gardens after the urgent plane trip to get to Nice, but I still think that Florence is a better place to live,” he quietly noted. “But, now I have a taxi to catch.” ]

The infamous meeting at Hotel Negresco

Ah, the Hotel Negresco in Nice! What an appropriate place for David and Pierre to meet just before they catch a taxi to their all important meeting with Jak. As one reviewer – in the UK Telegraph – noted, this is no ordinary hotel. It is an icon…

“My favourite hotel in France? No idea. There are too many contenders. But the most memorable hotel in France? No contest. It’s the Negresco in Nice – at once cultivated, frisky, magnificent and a little disdainful. In a hundred years, no-one has ever missed it on the Promenade des Anglais. The façade rises white and imperious to the pink roof, and pink dome allegedly inspired by the breast of the architect’s mistress. (But they say that about almost every dome in France. This tells you more about the French than it does about domes.) “

[Novel extract:  Pierre was busy checking an app on his phone. “Perhaps, but let’s first check to find a taxi rank nearby. Yes, here is one at Hotel Negresco. I’m not sure if we are being followed but, with such an important meeting as this one, we can’t take chances. It might be safer if we split up and meet at the hotel. It is only a short walk and we can take the taxi together when we arrive.”

“Great,” David replied, “but where shall we meet in the hotel?”

Pierre knew the area well. “Wait for me in the main floor gallery – the Royal Lounge. You can’t miss it. It is a huge circular room that was once a fabulous ballroom. It’s often used for spectacular events and what could be more spectacular than the event we are meeting for?”

He laughed aloud before continuing.

“Look for the painting of the red lady. It is of Marie Leszczynska, who became a famous consort in France. She was married to Louis XV.”

David was fascinated. “How did you say her name?”

Pierre looked quite pleased with himself. “Les chenz ka! Now, I will take the promenade if you take the back route.”

He pointed across from the café. “Follow the Rue Massena. It joins on to Rue de France. Turn left when you go past the gardens at Le Musée Masséna or, if the museum is open, you can walk through the gardens. Oh, and remember to check to see if anyone is following. You can go into a shop or double back just in case. I know some places along the promenade where I can also change direction to shake anyone who might be on my tail. I am probably being paranoid about taking these precautions, but we don’t want anyone else finding out about our meeting, do we?”

“Of course not, especially after the careful measures that Jak has taken,” David replied. ]

Note: Perhaps Pierre wasn’t paranoid enough!

Tensions rise in Nice!

While Jak is flying to Milan, a rather unscrupulous and rough character called Romano is becoming frustrated. An important business contact is due to arrive in Nice and has not made contact with him – so, even minor things send him into angry outbursts.

[novel extract: Romano walked over to the window, still muttering under his breath. A soft onshore breeze fluttered gently along the French Riviera and pushed humid air directly into their apartment.

“And I hate these curtains! Nothing but lace and more lace! Why do I have to put up with this crap? Why can’t we buy this apartment and change the décor?”

Léo Osborn seemed unfazed by his boss’s changing moods. He moved his gaze out between the offending curtains and over the Promenade des Anglais – the prized jewel in Nice’s beachside location. He envied a group of distant sunbathers lounging in the bright September sun.

Léo thought it would be the perfect time of year to enjoy the charms of Nice, except for one problem – they were still waiting for their contact, and Romano held him personally responsible for the delay.

Romano’s secretary, Sasha, finally broke the tense atmosphere.

“Romano, the landlady said she won’t change them, remember? She loves lace, especially fine lace from Nice. And I have offered to buy the apartment, but it is not that easy.”]

 

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