Jack knew he could break the bonds if he wanted to. He knew dozens of ways to escape from the ties that bound him. But he hadn't particularly enjoyed having a rope around his neck. If anyone caught him escaping, the punishment would be much worse.
He relaxed back into the chair. He decided to stay where he was. It wouldn't make any difference anyway - eventually that ignoramus Beaton would admit that the whole thing was pintless and let him go. Better to be released than run for the hills.
Ten minutes and forty-two seconds later, Marcus Beaton re-emerged, looking irritable.
'Right,' he said, kicking the rope away. 'Obviously that's not going to work.'
Engel smiled. 'What did your researcher tell you?'
'You worked that out then, did you?' He paced the room, hands behind his back. 'Yes, good old Denise. She dug up quite a background on you. You've survived... let me think.'
Beaton wiped a few beads of sweat from his forehead. The room was hot, and getting hotter. This was a technique often used in interrogations, Engel knew, to make the interviewee feel tense. It had no effect on him.
'You've survived five fires, two explosions, three floods and several accidents. Remember the time you were sent to hospital with a garden fork sticking through your back?'
Jack Engel grinned. 'What a night that was. I was so drunk...'
Beaton wiped his forehead again.
'You've had quite a life, haven't you?'
Jack raised an eyebrow. Back to the crux of the matter, it seemed.
'What's that supposed to mean?'
'I don't think I've had a particularly unusual life. The term unusual is subjective; it means different things for different people. I mean, look at you. You seem perfectly happy with spending your life stuck in the confines of a lifeless stone block, working for a fat guy in a suit, raising the two point three kids and trying to fight off the nagging feeling that your wife isn't attracted to you anymore. I think that's pretty unusual.'
Beaon's eyebrows raised in surprised. 'Oh, so you're stooping to insulting me and my lovely wife? Is that it?'
Jack Engle looked Beaton straight in the eye. 'I know things about your wife, Beaton,' he said, and was pleased to see his rival look decidedly ruffled. 'I know who she is, where she works, what pasta she likes-' he paused and ran his tongue over dry lips '-what she gets up to during the day...'
A throbbing vein appeared on Beaton's sweaty brow. His eyes were practically bulging out of his skull. He turned away from the smirking Engel.
Take deep breaths, he told himself.