Savage Beauty Chapter Nine
Cordelia Chase stalked back to her seat, her face frozen in a polite and meaningless smile. Once seated she allowed her face to assume an expression of humiliation and searing anger. “How dare he?” she snapped. “A mere primitive tribesman, and he turns down a chance that any normal man would kill for.”
“Uh, maybe he just prefers blondes, Cordy,” suggested the humble secretary who Cordelia had allowed to accompany her on this mission. The girl was stupid but occasionally useful, and her fawning adoration of the beautiful agent was usually a pleasant boost to Cordelia’s self-esteem, not that it needed boosting in normal circumstances. “I mean, Buffi Somersdottir is blonde, and the guy came all the way from Brazil to see her. That’s an awful long way. Even further away than Mexico, right?”
“She’s hardly in my league,” Cordelia sniffed. “She dresses like a student, despite her position.”
“Well, when a guy’s got a thing about blondes, there’s not much you can do about it,” said Harmony Kendall. “Hey, maybe he’d go for me? I’ve got the blonde hair and, hey, I’m totally better in the boobies department than the Prime Minister.” She gazed across the crowded room at the handsome Jivaro Indian and sighed. “I could just totally eat him up. He’s all sleek and lithe, sorta like a jaguar.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Feel free to try. Don’t blame me if he shoots you down in flames.”
“I totally will try my luck,” Harmony said, and stood up. She unfastened a couple of buttons and trotted off towards Spike.
Cordelia drained her glass and gestured imperiously to summon a waiter. She lost sight of her companion for a moment as a seething throng of men surrounded her, all eager to ply her with drinks, and when she had dismissed the crowd with a few suitably cutting words she saw Harmony trudging dejectedly back to their table.
“What did I tell you?”
“You were right, I totally got shot down,” Harmony said. “Hey, what’s a candirú fish?”
Cordelia frowned and extracted a Palm Pilot from her purse. She keyed the word into its dictionary. “Eww!” she said, screwing up her face. “Why do you want to know?”
“Well, he said he could fancy a candirú fish more than me,” Harmony said miserably.
Cordelia passed the device across to the blonde girl. Harmony read the definition, her eyes growing wide as she mouthed the words to herself. “It swims up your what?” she gasped in horror. “And then it sticks out spines and – eww!” She handed the computer back to Cordelia, her face pale. “That was just totally eww and double eww!” She sighed. “Guess he’s never going to be my juicy jaguar.”
“Strike one against the bad guys,” Ethan said in a tone of satisfaction.
“Pardon? Did I miss something?” Giles gazed around, perplexed, but saw nothing out of the ordinary.
“You’re really out of your environment here, aren’t you, old boy? Still, I suppose I’d be rather at a loss among the tribes of the rain-forest. Those two girls who made futile attempts to distract Spike from Buffi. They’re on the US Embassy staff.”
“Oh.” Giles fiddled with his spectacles. “I suppose they are quite attractive, if you like that sort of leggy American girl, but hardly capable of distracting Spike. The Americans obviously don’t realize how determined Spike can be.”
“You think they’re attractive?” Drusilla pouted.
“Well, to some extent,” Giles said. “Not in the same league as your delightful self, of course,” he added. Keeping in Drusilla’s good books was always a good idea, unless of course you wanted your spleen to be extracted and displayed as a trophy.
“That would hardly be possible, would it?” Ethan put in, smiling lecherously.
“Dear Giles,” Drusilla said fondly. “And dear Ethan too. You are my brave and true courtiers.” She looked at both of them in turn and ran her tongue lightly over her parted lips. “You deserve a reward. The bear can burrow where the jaguar cannot go, and the monkey can climb the tallest tree.”
“Um, quite,” Giles said, feeling slightly uncomfortable. Not only due to embarrassment, but he was experiencing the physical discomfort that often afflicted him in Drusilla’s presence. He surreptitiously adjusted his position to ease the discomfort, and noticed Ethan doing the same thing. “I really doubt that the Americans will be able to do anything more to interfere with Spike and Miss Somersdottir, not now they have been joined by such a large group of friends.”
“Don’t call her Miss Somersdottir,” Ethan advised. “The Icelanders don’t go in for using their surnames that way. They tend to just look at you blankly as if they don’t know who you mean. Call her Buffi Somersdottir if you want to be really formal, otherwise just say Buffi.”
“Doesn’t that lack respect? After all, she is the Prime Minister.”
“That makes no difference,” Ethan told him. “The cultural attaché made the mistake of calling Björk ‘Miss Guðmundsdóttir’ when he was first here, and he was still being mocked for it months later.”
“Ah, I see. I’ll bear that in mind,” Giles said. “My point still stands, however. We need have no fear for Spike’s safety, as they are now in a large group. Isn’t that the son of the American Ambassador?”
“That’s right, old boy, your memory isn’t failing you yet,” Ethan said. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he guarantees the safety of the party, however. Ambassador Harris is a Grade A bastard, I’m afraid, and he doesn’t seem to have a lot of time for his son. Shame, really, young Xander is a pleasant and personable young man.” Ethan raised his glass to his lips and then lowered it again without drinking. “Oh, dear. Looks like I was more right than I knew, old boy. Trouble. Here come the whalers.”
“Really?” Giles peered around the room. “Didn’t they break up when Bob Marley died?”
“Well, so much for Plan A,” Angle commented, as he watched Cordelia’s ignominious retreat. “I really thought that one would work. It makes it a bit harder for me to move in on Buffi.”
“So, you’ll just have to step in to protect her from the big bad whalers,” Riley said. “You can play the big hero and have her eating out of your hand.”
“I’m not happy about putting her in danger,” Angle frowned.
“Come on, she’s not going to get hurt,” Riley said airily. “The chief whaler is her secretary’s dad, for one thing, and for another she’s the Prime Minister and he’d go to jail for sure if he hurt her. He’s just going to throw enough of a scare into her to give you the chance to look good.”
Angel stared at the party who were entering the club at that moment, and sucked in a long breath. “He’s big. He’s very big. I hope he knows the whole plan.”
“What’s the matter, scared?” Riley sneered. “You’re the big Olympic champion, remember? Don’t you think you can take him? Or do you need the crowd chanting? ‘Angle U.S! Angle U.S!’ I knew pro wrestling was fixed, didn’t realise the same applied to the Olympics.”
Angle flushed and clenched his fists. “Watch your mouth, Finn. It’s going to get you into a lot of trouble.”
“Hi, hope you’re enjoying yourselves here at Karathús,” a voice interrupted from behind the bar. Angle and Finn turned to see a hook-nosed man with very full lips smiling at them. “I’m Ljörn Diðriksson, owner of this establishment, and if there’s anything I can do to make things more entertaining, just say. You don’t seem to be drinking. Can I suggest a Sea Breeze? Speciality of the house. Any particular song you’d like to hear?”
Angle forced a smile to his face. The club owner looked disconcertingly intelligent, and had probably sensed the argument and moved in to break it up before it escalated. It wouldn’t do to seem uninterested in the club’s entertainment. He listened for a moment to the music blaring across from the dance floor, ‘Where is the Love?’ by Black Eyed Peas, and winced. “Got any Barry Manilow?”
Spike was a little uncomfortable as part of such a big group. They were all friendly enough, but they weren’t part of his tribe, and it didn’t feel natural to relax when outnumbered by strangers. Some of them were strangers to Buffi too, although she seemed to take to them easily enough. It put Spike on edge, and he stayed alert and vigilant. He spotted the approaching whalers long before anyone else.
The big man who Buffi had kicked unconscious at the Ambassador’s Ball was unmistakable. He was heading towards her party, flanked by obvious henchmen, and Spike sensed danger. He got to his feet and moved to intercept the whalers. “Oi! You’re the bloke who was giving Buffi stick at the ball, aren’t you?” he challenged Olaf. “Don’t bother her tonight. Friendly warning.” His tone made it very clear that the warning was anything but friendly.
Olaf grinned delightedly. He could see his daughter in Buffi’s group, and had been rather worried at the thought of starting a brawl in her vicinity with the attendant risks of Anya getting caught up in it and possibly coming to harm. Spike was making things easy for him. Especially if he could be tricked into striking the first blow and thereby reducing the chance of the whalers being prosecuted for assault. “I don’t know what you mean, jungle man,” Olaf boomed. “We are but hard-working fishermen, wishing only to speak up in defence of our livelihood.”
“I’m a fisherman, tosser,” Spike said coldly. “You’re a machine operator. Paddle out in a canoe with a harpoon if you want to catch whales.”
“You’re a fisherman?” queried one of Olaf’s henchmen, Dagur, a balding man who was a ship’s doctor. “I don’t smell a sole anywhere on you.”
Spike ignored him. “You don’t come near the girl,” he said flatly.
Olaf smiled warmly. He’d done a little research in advance of this confrontation and knew the perfect way to provoke Spike while seeming to everyone around to be entirely innocent. “You misunderstand, my friend,” he said. “We are all admirers of the Prime Minister. She is most,” he held up his hand and gestured with his thumb and forefinger together in a circle, “delightful.”
Throughout a large part of the world that hand formation signified ‘excellent, fine, great’. In Brazil it was the most obscene and insulting gesture possible. Spike reacted instantly. He punched Olaf in the stomach with everything he had, his fist sinking wrist-deep into the muscled abdomen, brought up the heel of his other hand to meet Olaf’s chin as the whaler doubled over, and followed up with a kick to the chest as Olaf staggered backwards under the impacts. Olaf crashed to the ground.
Spike grinned savagely as Olaf struggled to rise. “Come on, then, pillock, let’s you and me have a go,” he taunted. “This won’t take long.”
At that moment Dagur hit Spike across the back of the neck with a bottle and felled the Brazilian like a rain-forest tree. “No, I don’t imagine it will,” the doctor said triumphantly. Olaf scrambled to his feet, wheezing and clutching his stomach, his face contorted in rage and pain, and drew back his foot to kick the helpless Spike.
To be continued ...