“…and typically, you’d be meeting with my Master Taster, but I haven’t seen a prospective order this large in years,” the owner said cheerfully. “I asked Jeff if he’d mind me stealing his thunder. One of the perks of being in charge.” Forte thought the man might’ve grinned; the lower half of his face was almost entirely concealed by ferocious facial hair. “So, what are your plans for 100 barrels of whisky, if you’re open to–Mr. Forte? Everything all right?”
Edward Forte sewed crumpled lines in and out of his brow. He’d been gaping at a small, strangely inconspicuous portrait of the distillery’s founder, which was resting on the wall directly in his sight line. “Uh. Yes, of course. Sorry. It’s just…that portrait. He’s your spitting image.”
The owner chuckled lightly. He turned a glass over in his hand, watching the whisky slip in and out of the ice cubes. “So I’ve been told. He was born in the 19th century. I should hope to look so good at 169!” Forte relaxed and made pish-toshing noises, warming to his proposal.
It wasn’t until several hours later, alone in his apartment, that he realized the owner never actually denied being the man in the portrait.
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