‘This is a terrible idea,’ he said, and stubbed out his cigarette end in the overflowing ashtray. ‘Absolutely terrible.’
Nevertheless he took out a thick folder from the top drawer of his side of the partner desk and opened it. Scrutinising every page, he removed all notes, copies and newspaper clippings that might be deemed offensive by anyone reading over his shoulder. Then he added several sheets of blank paper. For the minutes. Because there should be minutes. Minutes he could trust.
‘A terrible, terrible idea,’ he said again, and proceeded to check the remaining pages for a second time.
At the window, his back to the office they shared, Cael let out an irritable sigh. ‘Don’t be dramatic. These men are archaeologists, not the Spanish Inquisition.’
‘Are you certain? Because word has it they wield disturbingly long knives.’
‘Pettiness is ugly on you, Alexis.’
‘Pettiness? You believe I’m being petty?’ Alexander slammed his hands on the desk and shot to his feet. ‘In a few minutes, we will be entering a meeting with the people who conducted a pogrom not a fortnight ago. A pogrom, Cael! Yet somehow you are still seriously considering cooperating with these people?’
‘Without a shadow of a doubt.’
‘They encouraged destruction, pillaging, even killing. Nearly one hundred innocent people died that night!’ He gauged his friend for a response, but detected none. ‘Does any of this even register with you? Do you realise what it means?’
Cael let a lungful of smoke escape from between his lips. ‘I do.’
‘Do you really?’ Alexander said, glaring. ‘I know you. Those deaths are barely a footnote to you.’