Lex’s eyes teared up at the thought of how his late mother would have enjoyed this evening with her son and brother. Both Lex’s parents would have. Shortly before she died, she told him how close she was to her younger brother, a bond strengthened by them being the only two Lévy family members to have survived the holocaust. 

“My tailor in Rue Marbeuf expects a visit from you one of these days. I’ve instructed him to measure you for a couple of shirts.” 

“It’s too much, Uncle,” Lex protested. 

“Nonsense. What good are cufflinks without formal shirts? And it’s a small token of my gratitude to have my favourite nephew on my doorstep in Paris.”

“The one and only, you may add,” Lex said, repeating his words from earlier in the evening. 

“Especially that one,” Jules laughed, repeating Lex’s. 

“You wanted to tell me something about a small matter.”

“Let’s order some coffee and cognac first.”

“Sounds good,” Lex said as he offered his uncle a cigarette. 

“Let’s keep the cigarettes for later. I think the occasion calls for a cigar.” Jules lifted a black leather cigar holder from his inside pocket, removed the lid, and offered Lex the choice of two cigars. He pulled one out, and fortunately, it didn’t take a cigar aficionado to read the name Romeo y Julieta Churchills on the band. 

With a lit cigar in one hand and a vintage cognac in the other, Lex was eager to hear what Jules wanted him to investigate. Jules must have sensed it as he said, “The matter you could look into is, as I mentioned, rather trivial, but it does require you to be discreet.” 

“Of course.”  

He paused as he sipped his cognac and drew some smoke from his cigar. Lex waited him out. 

“I have a client that I suspect of subletting one of my apartments. It’s, obviously, illegal, but my real fear is that it’s being used for some criminal activity.”

“Like what?”

“The neighbours are complaining that there’s constant coming and going. It could be a private sex club or casino.”

“What does the client say?” 

“That he has a large family and many friends.”

“As the agency that rents him the apartment, can’t you gain access to see if there’s anything illegal going on?”

“According to French law, I have no such right. So unless he invites me in, my hands are tied. “

“Is it a big apartment?”

“About three hundred square metres.”

“Where is it?” 

“On Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe ”

“Fancy part of town.”

“As well as respectable. But if the tenant uses the place for criminal activities, it doesn’t matter where it is, if it’s rented through my agency.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I could, if I had nothing better to do, perch myself outside the property, but it will be more efficient to hire you as a private detective. I leave it to your professional discretion to establish if there is indeed any funny business going on.” 

“Leave it with me. What’s my deadline?” 

“It’s not urgent. If you come to lunch with your fiancée at Place des Vosges on Sunday, you can update me. The kids and I would love to see you both.” Jules signalled to the waiter, and while they waited for the bill, he asked, “How do you get around Paris?” 

“I walk and use public transport,” Lex replied.

“It might be handy for you to have some wheels. Gigi probably has to stay in Tel Aviv for a while, and —”

“How is her mother?” Lex interrupted. 

“I’m afraid she’s not long for this world.”

“Sorry to hear it.”

“I gave my wife a new car when she turned forty in March, and it’s not much good parked in the street. If I leave the key at the office, you’re welcome to pick it up opposite our apartment sometime next week.”

“That’s kind of you. Much appreciated.”

“My pleasure. Or Gigi’s, I should say.”

“I need to know the brand and the colour.”

“Didn’t I say? It’s a three-door red Renault 5TS Sedan with a canvas sunroof. You can’t miss it.” 

“Nice small car for city traffic.” 

“Especially if you’re unaccustomed to driving in Paris. I don’t intend to make you nervous, but Gigi will crucify you if you return it with any damage,” Jules said with a snigger, “and one more thing—smoking in the car is a non-starter. Not even with the sunroof open.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” Lex said and lit a cigarette.

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