Bill Tanner, M’s Chief of Staff, stood sentinel outside the portico. As M alighted, Tanner rushed forward, an umbrella braced against the unforgiving November rains.

“PM just got here, sir,” muttered Tanner. “He’s in a frightful state.”

“That’s his usual mode, I’m afraid.” M sighed, straightened his cravat and followed Tanner into the vestibule. He left his hat and coat at the cloakroom and went upstairs. On the second landing stood the PM.

“Good evening, M.” The Prime Minister, back and bleached mustache equally straight, eyed M fiercely. “I appreciate your and Mr. Tanner’s coming.”

“Of course, Prime Minister.” M bit back a sarcastic rejoinder. He didn’t much care for this new boy in Downing Street, considering him peremptory and impertinent. M, who far preferred the old wartime PM, took solace knowing that the peculiarities of elected office meant the new boy’s time would end before his own.

They were conducted down the hall by a footman to the tall doors. Rapping smartly twice, he opened one, stepped through and announced:

“The Prime Minister and head of Secret Service, Your Majesty.”

ROULETTE, a James Bond adventure by Jamie Mason. Coming November 2018.

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