Emma was up bright and early, dressed in a brightly coloured floral tunic top with white leggings. Her shoes nearly matched the floral print of her top and she added a rich bright red bag into which she dropped her makeup and paraphernalia from last night fully intending to go over their conversation with a fine toothed comb if necessary. Taking one last look in the mirror, she headed out to hear waiting Honda.
As soon as she reached her desk, her boss motioned to her. Side stepping to grab two coffees (the aroma suggested it was freshly brewed) she added milk to both and sugar to her bosses cup. “Emma, how’d the interview go?”
“Interestingly. We were barely into our discussion and he didn’t miss a beat, answered forthrightly until he suggested dinner and there wasn’t much opportunity for a discussion after that point. He trotted out his artwork, which is completely mind blowingly incredible, some of which graces his walls, and then explained he had to cut the evening short as he was flying out. Nathan suggested he’d get back to me upon his return so we can continue uninteruptedly.”
“First, Nathan? First name basis already? Secondly, do you believe him? Were his answers legit?”
“I’m going to check into that now, but yes, I had no reason to doubt the validity of his answers. Having said that, I’m eager to return to the point of the subject and nail his butt to the wall for more answers, no sidetracking allowed.”
“That’s my girl, I knew I could count on you. Give ‘im hell, Emma!” When she returned to her desk he admitted if only to himself, his concern. Although he’d been informed that there was more to Nathan Armstrong than meets the eye, he legitimately needed to find out the truth of the situation. At the same time, he was also edgy about placing Emma in a compromising situation. He wouldn’t put knowingly put Emma in a dangerous situation in waters over her head. There had to be a story here or Vincent wouldn’t have suggested he put his best person on the case, one that wouldn’t attract Armstrong’s attention and arouse suspicion.
Emma was busy digging into “all that was Nathan”. She’d spent two full days digging, zig zagging from site to site, finding tid bits but nothing with any meat to it. It had her wondering what her boss knew that she didn’t and if Nathan was indeed hiding something important.
She was pleasantly surprised on the third day when he called and suggested lunch at a Salty’s. The restaurant’s food was award winning, particularly it’s Sunday brunch with spectacular seafood and an incredible view. She’d eagerly accepted both with the hopes of cornering Nathan, and tasting their heavenly quisine.
Nathan was already waiting when she arrived and rose to greet her. “Emma, you look breathtakingly beautiful.”
“Wow, you are a charmer.”
“In some circles, but with you, I only speak the truth. You are incredibly beautiful. Those colours are perfect for you. You forget, I’m an artist and beauty delights me whether it be in style, form, colours, man, woman, or child. The setting here,” he gestured toward the beautiful view, “is but one example.”
“In that tone, I thank you.”
“So was there a specific purpose for this meeting? Are we going to continue our interview? I would have chosen a more quiet venue but I can make this work.”
“Your delightful, Emma. Yes we can continue our previous discussion, but first, let’s order. I strongly suggest one of their gourmet salads. Truly incredible.”
“I haven’t had the pleasure as yet, I’ve been looking forward to dining here. This is truly a bonus. You, the food, the view, what more could a mortal ask?”
“Now whose the charmer?”
Emma blushed at that. “I too speak clearly concisely and the truth. Imperically you are handsome, the view is pretty spectacular and from what I hear the food is divine. Am I wrong?”
“Two out of three isn’t bad. I’ll admit to having some appeal, but again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m sure there are many who would glance my way and continue without a second look.”
“Nathan, false modesty does not become you.”
Nathan was delighted with their banter. It had kept her off stride and otherwise engaged but he knew it was a matter of time before she grilled him. “From the look in your eyes, I wonder who’s on the menu, me or the Salmon.”
Emma laughed, “I’m not that vicious, I rarely bite and I promise you might enjoy it.”
Leaning forward Nathan whispered, “I might at that. First opportunity.” The arrival of their server momentarily stopped their conversation and Nathan halted him, “Two coffee with extra cream, and the raspberry gourmet salad.”
The waiter introduced himself as Sean and promised to return forthwith.
Emma was taking in the view, which was spectacular. “I take it you come here often?”
“No, not often, but I knew the service was exceptional, the food good and it wasn’t a great distance for you on your lunch hour.”
“So tell me about “all that is Nathan. What should I know? What would interest my readers?” She’d decided to put him on the spot, and have him take control, see where he went with the interview and then guide him back with questions of her own.
“If it were up to me, there would be no interview, there isn’t much of interest that I believe the public has a right to know about. I’m an artist, I live well, I enjoy great wine, good food. I’m single, and as you alluded to earlier, can fly off to France at a moment’s notice, but rarely without business in mind. My studio, “Greatest Gift” does well requiring very little monitoring. When I head to France, it’s because something my art calls me and I have a need to paint something different.”
“So you’ve never married. I’m surprised. Your obviously eligible, you’re handsome, you have means, and in some circles, hell most circles, you’d be considered quite a catch.”
“Emma, you flatter me. I’m single by choice, I’ve enjoyed women’s company on many occasions, but fleetingly, never with great interest or design on either side.”
“Your painting in France, is it much different than what Ive seen from your porfolio or gracing your walls?”
“Yes, the ideas are far different, in part owing to the surroundings, in part because it is France! France has an appeal that few other cities have. Although Geneva runs a close second as does several cities in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Now there’s a country that knows it’s wine, has a fiesty personality and is openly welcoming.”
“So these are your favourite haunts in which to paint?”
“If I had an easle and a kit, I’d paint you right here, right now. You have no idea how appealingly lovely you are. Earnest curiosity prevalent in your eyes, your cupid lips slightly parted in anticipation, a gentle glow in your cheeks and your interest definitely appealing.”
Their lunch was delivered and they set about enjoying it. “You are good at trying to sidetrack me, I’ll give you that.”
“Why would I do that?”
“I’m not entirely sure, but I intend to find out. I did some digging on you and found the event you spoke of regarding Morgan, Jessop and Fredrics. My boss tells me there’s more, that you’ve been seen with one or more of the three on several occasions.”
“Perhaps, I haven’t bothered to take note. We travel in the same circles, our paths cross as do many other dignitaries. Many are interested in obtaining one or more of my paintings as I’m rather well known to those I wish to be known and spend time with.”
“That is one of my questions. The circles you travel in, are indeed filled with dignitaries. You rub shoulders with high rollers, some of which may not be as altruistic as the men I mentioned.”
“I can’t control who is invited to every meeting or event I attend. There is always the possibility that an unsavoury element may indeed participate in an event I am attending. It’s highly unlikely, as these events are well vetted, however, on occasion it has been known to happen and when it does, they are very politely escorted off the premises.”
“Who would do the escorting, say, if it happened at one of your events?”