Paris – Autumn 2004.
For three whole days, Chloe had listened to Charles’s theories, his paranoia, even his obsession for an investigation into the deaths of biological weapons scientists. There was no reasoning with him, as far as he was concerned there were no accidents, and no reasonable explanations.
Chloe Moreau walked from the Métro to the main office of La France, a leading daily centre-left newspaper. Early morning Paris mist formed droplets on her tan trench coat; she had tied the belt, and would have put up her collar against the weather, had she noticed it. The colours of autumn were vibrant and the promised Swarovski moments of winter had yet to arrive. The traffic noise was muffled, and the only clear sound was the click of her boot heels on the pavement.
William S Burroughs is reputed to have said, ‘Sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts.’ Chloe’s mind was frantically sorting out fact from co-incidence, trying to decide what she would tell her editor and whether to commit to this lengthy project on so much conjecture. In her heart she knew she would, with or without the blessing of her editor; she wanted to know the truth. Turning off the main road, she took a short cut to the office’s underground car park, reserved for senior staff. It would save time, as she wouldn’t have to clear security at the main entrance.
Chloe became aware her footsteps had developed a soft echo. Either she had a stalker, or an innocent pedestrian was following her. She could hear her self-defence coach telling her, don’t rationalise away your fears, don‘t be a victim, plan against an attack. She regretted there were no Tasers, mace or rape alarms in her bag. It was Paris, a quiet tree-lined boulevard off the Périphérique, an area not known for muggers at the peak of morning commuting.
She pulled the cover off her umbrella. Now it could open at the touch of a button, it would serve as a cosh, and although it was lightweight, she hoped it would be enough. She opened her bag, stuffed the cover in a pocket, took out her flat keys and placed them between her first and second finger to act as a weapon. She thought about what else she could use from her handbag to surprise her attacker. Drawing a clown nose with a coral lipstick would be a surprise, but not a defensive strategy. She put the lipstick back.
Chapter continues https://crharrisblog.com/smoke-and-mirrors/ – Book will be available on Kindle on 17 September 2013 and in paperback on 17 October 2013.