The billion-dollar meeting was in a grubby pub down in Charlton, The Sun In The Sands.
Judging from the outside the place looked as if it had seen better days, probably around the end of the fifties. But from the inside, probably not. The Englishman tried to hide his distaste and approached the bar, nodding to the over-tattooed, flabby barmaid.
‘Pint of bitter, love,’ he said.
She nodded and started pouring as he looked around. The American sat wedged behind a tiny corner table, staring worriedly at a glass of beer. A small group of builders downed lagers near the pool table while a twenty-something black man hunched over the bar, tapping away on a smartphone. Slouching against the stained wall, a drunk kid in a hoodie burped loudly. Faded pictures from the blitz hung around the wall. Dreariness oozed from the ceiling.
The Englishman dragged his drink along the counter, sipped it and stepped over, sitting down in front of the American. ‘You wanted to see me.’
‘Yes.’ A pause. ‘What we’re trying to pull off is still massive, but things are moving along nicely now.’
‘Four have agreed already. I only need another two now.’
The Englishman nodded, giving nothing away. When the silence lengthened he just took another sip of his beer. The American stared at his dirty glass, considered it for a second and gave up. ‘They want proof though, something tangible. It’s a big step for everyone,’ he said.
‘Blackspring is on the ground, but it might take a while.’
‘That’s not be a problem, as long as you can deliver. You know I trust your vision, but… they’ll need some data, soon,’ the American sighed.
‘Here, have this.’ The American opened a small box and pulled out an odd-looking mobile phone. The handset was thicker than normal, and about twice as tall.
‘What is it?’
‘It’s military grade. Sat-phone, untraceable, effectively impossible to intercept.’ He glanced around and grimaced. ‘At least you won’t drag me to these shitholes when we need to talk privately.’
The Englishman took the offering and stood up, his pint still half-full. ‘Fine, I’ll let you know as soon as I have better samples.’ Seconds later he stepped into the sticky, humid air of a warm London summer and hailed his driver from the carpark.
Inside the pub, the American slipped to the toilet to wash his hands. The kid in the hoodie smiled, winked at the barmaid and left, a heavy gym bag slung across his shoulder.
If you enjoyed this sample, the whole novel will be available on Amazon on April 25th.