The meal demanded oysters. The lady ordered oysters because of certain effects that she alluded to but wouldn’t name. Older than her companion, attractive and dressed to accent her strengths, she had a vigorous bust and a long elegant neck. She was pleasant and discreet. Nothing more than dinner was promised, but something was being planned. The insistency that both consume shellfish was as close as she got to talking about screwing.
The awful state of the world was a more public topic.
“I worry about my son,” she said.
Her little boy was nineteen and sitting on the fringes of Asia.
“He watches them. That’s his job, Intelligence is.” She allowed herself to be prideful, despite her reasonable concerns.
“Intelligence,” Quentin said.
He meant to sound sarcastic.
She didn’t notice. “He tells me news,” she said, one hand reaching partway across the table. “News I shouldn’t know. About our enemies.”
“Which enemies?” he asked.
She laughed, the question was so silly.
When the oysters were finished and the plates cleared away, she said, “People fear the Mongols most. But not me.”
“The Han?” he guessed.
“No, we bloodied them plenty in Vietnam.” The strategic thinker nodded, eyes narrowing. “No, the worst are the Persians. Crafty, sneaky. Like demons in human skin. That’s what they are.”
“You know this?”
“Yes, I do.”
Some moments demanded brilliance. This one needed nothing but an honest voice.
“By the way,” Quentin said. “I’m married to a Persian lady.”
Again, the so-silly laugh. But when she looked at his face, at the serious gaze and the set of his mouth, the woman instantly regretted wasting money on oysters.