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M is for . . .

“A gun.”

“What?” Peter asked as he emerged from the shower, one towel secured around his waist as he used a second to dry his hair. Outside their open windows and below their balcony stretched MONTE CARLO, a slice of the Riviera burning off its last bit of blue before the sun set. Peter and Charles had spent the morning out and about, had spent the afternoon in, and were collecting themselves now with the idea of a nice dinner.

“You have a gun,” Charles said. “I thought they made you give yours up when . . .”

“They did,” said Peter. He dropped the second towel and crossed to where his bag lay open, knowing he’d never left it that way. Years of careful habits were not easily broken. “Were you looking for something?”

“I was going to make sure your shirt wasn’t wrinkled. You don’t need it,” Charles added stubbornly.

Peter’s eyebrows went up. “My shirt?”

“A gun.”

“Someone thought I might,” said Peter.

“Someone?”

“Hong Kong.” When Charles only stared blankly, Peter explained, “The men from the satellite office sent it along as a going away present.” Peter slid the offending firearm back under a pile of clothing and extracted his trousers. “These?” he asked. Charles had a better eye for style than he did.

But Charles was not to be deterred. “You’re out of it now.”

“There’s no such thing as out of it,” Peter stated. “A network with old information might still think I was in. Or might think I know something even if I am . . . retired. Now,” Peter went on with the air of someone turning a page to the start of a new chapter, “have you seen my cufflinks?”

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Wondering who Peter and Charles are? Read my novella St. Peter in Chains to find out and then watch for the sequel St. Peter at the Gate coming later this year.

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