Fiction — Istanbul

Like every vibrant city in the world, Istanbul has its own sound, its own smell, its own rhythm — and if you close your eyes you can feel it.  Emily and Dreyfus, sitting at a table for two on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Bosporus, had their eyes open.  They were looking across at the late night lights, hearing the drifting shadow sounds of baglamas and davul drums and thinking — whatever that chocolate dessert thing was, they wanted another slice.  And another glass of wine and another hour or so under the stars.

But we don’t always get what we want, do we?  And Dreyfus Sinclair was known in this part of the world.  And more than one organization keeps track of who gets their passports stamped at Ataturk Airport.  And Emily knew the heavy man talking to the head waiter was trouble the minute he gestured toward their table.  And by the time he straightened his tie and started walking towards them, she was already reaching for her enameled cigarette case.  And she was right, and there he was — looming.

“Mr. Sinclair,” the man wasn’t asking, “My apologies.  I’m very sorry to disturb your meal.  My name is Taavi, and I have a matter of some urgency to make a discussion with you.”

“Nothing is that urgent, Taavi,” Dreyfus said evenly, without looking up. 

Taavi leaned forward slightly and Dreyfus casually moved his right hand to the stem of his wine glass and wrapped his fingers around it like a fist.

Taavi lowered his voice and leaned a little closer. “My father.is sometimes called Karga.  He says you are a friend of ours.  And he would be very pleased if you would speak with me.”

Dreyfus turned to look at the man.

“My father also says you have a scar on your arm because you don’t know how to … uh …” he searched for the word, “… put down your head.”

Emily could see the shift in Sinclair’s eyes.  She knew the look.  This was work.  She held her cigarette case up like a prize and pointed to the far end of the roof.  “I’m going over there by the rail on a completely unrelated matter.”  Emily stood up and pushed her handbag across the table.  “Guard the credit cards.”  And she turned and walked away.

Emily didn’t like this part.  It didn’t happen often enough for her to hate it, but even as an occasional side effect of Dreyfus Sinclair, it was a pain in the ass.  She never knew when he was going to get dragged away on business.  But right now, she knew she wasn’t going to get another slice of cake, or any more minutes under the stars, or … she wondered vaguely if Turkish TV had subtitles.  She opened her cigarette case.

A waiter appeared at her elbow and flicked open a flame. “Thank you,” Emily said in passable Turkish, then continued in English. “Who is that man?”

There was no hesitation.  “That is Taavi Bey.  He is the son of Ertan Bey.  They are a family of some importance in our city.” There was a touch of pride in his voice and deference.

“Thank you,” Emily said again, in Turkish, turned and leaned on the rail towards the water.  It didn’t help that Sinclair had talked her into this trip.  She should have stayed home with her trees.  The pears were growing and the bottles needed to be kept dry or there’d be blight.  “There’s always something,” she thought and exhaled a drift of smoke into the night sky.  And now, a family of some importance wanted to talk to Dreyfus Sinclair and that was something else to worry about.

A few minutes later, as the man Taavi left, Emily went back to the table and nearly collided with two waiters hurrying to bring more dessert and more wine and little cups of coffee and ice cream that smelled like orchids.  Emily sat down and looked around.

“You’re doing some serious sucking up here, Sinclair.”

“Nothing to do with me,” he shrugged, and finished one glass of wine.  “Compliments of the house.”

Emily made an approving face.

“But I have to go out later.”

“I knew there was a catch.”

“No catch.  An old friend just asked me to do him a favour.”

“And you owe him, right?”

“No, that’s the beauty of it: he’s going to owe me.”  Dreyfus chuckled and reached the new glass of wine across the table as a toast.

Emily hesitated.

“Karga’s a business man, Emily.  He does a lot of import, export, and he might be interested in importing pear brandy.  Maybe you should talk to him while we’re here.”

Emily’s eyes brightened.  She reached for her glass.

—————

The further adventures of Emily and Dreyfus are available now.  Take a look at Dreyfus and the Duchess here

Fiction – Under The Windows

“I remember these,” Emily said, looking out over the river.  She was nervously answering a question Dreyfus hadn’t asked.  But he was busy searching through the kitchen cupboards, trying to find where Mrs. Flynn kept the serving trays.  He never used them, but for some reason, he wanted the square silver one to serve the drinks on.

Emily turned her head and gestured back at the windows. “I didn’t remember they were quite so big.  This place is huge.”

Dreyfus stopped and pointed to the loft behind him. “You spent most of your time up there.”

“I spent most of my time whacked out on painkillers.”

Dreyfus opened another cabinet door.  Pans.  No luck.  This was getting awkward.  Emily wasn’t sure what to do either.  She looked around, trying to remember things so she’d have something to talk about.  This was not the reunion either one of them had envisioned in the long goodbye at Peterborough train station.

They hadn’t seen each other for nearly a month.  Dreyfus had left Pyaridge Hall a couple of days after New Year to catch a plane for Panama.  The purpose of the trip was to explain supply and demand to a corrupt government official who was demanding a bigger bribe to supply customs clearances for Hudson and McCormick ships.  Normally, Dreyfus loved the tropics (especially in January) but when he arrived, he discovered that Senor Estasfador was arrogant and enthusiastically stupid.  Plus, despite the sun, sand and pina coladas, Dreyfus found he was oddly homesick for the chilly rain of London.  It made him irritable, and after a couple of weeks of failed negotiations, haughty dismissals and hurry up and wait, he decided to solve the problem.  He walked into El Estasfador’s office, pulled him out of his comfortable chair and threw him out the window.  The flight from the first floor and the cuts, contusions, broken wrist and shoulder convinced everyone that there had been a misunderstanding and the bribe was, indeed, satisfactory.  The papers were signed that very afternoon, and the next day Dreyfus was on his way home.

Meanwhile, Emily had stayed on at the estate, to hurt a little and heal a lot and divide her time equally between being an unhappy puppy and a snarling bitch. Eventually, Janet Miller, estate manager and concerned friend, suggested Emily either fly to Panama and get it over with or risk being smothered in her sleep.  Two days later, Emily was on a plane to New York City.  However, unaware of the surprise, Dreyfus was already changing planes at JFK.  They passed each other somewhere over the Atlantic.

Now, maxed out on frustration, they were together again and couldn’t quite figure out what to do with each other.  The simple fact was neither one of them had ever done this kind of thing, and they didn’t actually know how to act.  The ten plus days at Pyraridge Hall had been a full-on love affair, giddy and silly and just a bit dizzy, with enough erotic content to make Aphrodite blush.  But that had been time out of time, hidden in the country — and now this was the real world.  And they were both desperately afraid that the other one had had time to think about it.  

“What are you looking for?”  Emily’s exasperation bubbled over.

“Something for the drinks,” Dreyfus said, defeated. “I’m trying to impress you.”

Emily pointed to the low liquor cabinet across the room. “Whisky?  Glasses?” 

“No, I was trying to find a tray to put things on and …” Dreyfus was embarrassed. “I just wanted everything to be nice.”

Emily turned directly to Dreyfus, who was clearly uncomfortable, and tilted her head sympathetically. “I know what you mean,” she said. “I bought a bikini.”

Dreyfus looked the question.

“At JFK, before you called.  When I was still going to Panama.  I bought a bikini.”

Dreyfus shrugged and opened his hands, palms up.

“I don’t wear bikinis, Sinclair.  Too much Emily,” Emily fluttered her hands and shivered her shoulders, “Hanging out everywhere.” 

Dreyfus, who’d seen quite a bit of Emily over the Christmas holidays, didn’t understand, and his face showed it.

“I bought it for you.”

Dreyfus recognized Emily’s tone and swallowed the adolescent joke.  He exhaled. “We’re trying too hard?”

It wasn’t a real question, and Emily didn’t answer.

“Go sit down.  I’ll pour you a drink.”  Dreyfus gestured to the sofa and went to the liquor cabinet. “There’s a remote on the table for the fireplace.”

Emily walked across the room. “I remember the fireplace,” she said, sitting down. “And the soup.  God that was the best soup.”

“Do you want some?  Mrs. Flynn usually leaves me some.  I could look?”

“Maybe we’re trying too hard?” Emily said, over her shoulder.

Dreyfus agreed to himself and poured two generous glasses.  He went over, handed Emily her glass and sat down on the floor at her feet with his arm on her leg.

 Emily touched her glass to his and said. “Let’s start again.”

There was a ting and they both drank.

“How was Panama?”

Dreyfus shook his head and chuckled. “Nothing special.  I threw a man out of a window.”

Emily nodded. “As you do,” she said solemnly.

There was a pause.

“What about you?”

“Janet threatened to kill me.”

It was Dreyfus’ turn to nod. “How is the indomitable Ms. Miller?’ There was a touch of mock sarcasm.

“Be nice.  She likes you.  Actually, I deserved it.  I’ve been an absolute horror for weeks.”

Emily reached down and pressed Dreyfus’ hand against her leg. “I missed you so much it hurt,” she said, shaking her head and looking at Dreyfus as if it were the first time.

Dreyfus looked up and it was his Emily and nothing had changed. “I missed you so much I threw a man out of a window.”

Emily laughed, bent her head down, “You win,” she said and kissed him, long and deeply.

And the late afternoon became evening and the evening became night, and they talked the hours away and didn’t go to bed until morning.

But that was alright because they didn’t leave the bedroom again for three days.

You can read the original Christmas at Pyaridge Hall here.

Or check out the further adventures of Emily and Dreyfus here.

Fiction – Emily and Dreyfus 2022

You’ve probably seen Emily and Dreyfus.  Perhaps they got out of a taxi as you were walking by.  Or maybe you passed them in the park.  You might have sat across from them in a restaurant.  Or even exchanged small talk in the lobby of your hotel.  Yes, you’ve probably seen Emily and Dreyfus, but you may not have noticed them – because they’re such ordinary people.  He works for an insurance company and she’s an event planner – just another couple of young professionals.  Every busy city is full of those, and most of us are too busy to see them.

But wait a minute!  Dreyfus Sinclair works for an old and established London firm, Hudson and McCormick, and we all know they don’t really follow the letter of the law, do they?  So, part of his job description is to make sure that he and the things he does remain “invisible.”  And he’s good at it, because he likes it that way.  Emily, on the other hand, is the Duchess of Weldon, a fixture of the caviar and champagne circuit who knows and is well known by everyone who’s anyone.  She has no secrets, except, perhaps, that in her real life, Lady Perry-Turner, is dull and dutiful, dreadfully lonely and up to her eyelashes in debt.  They’re quite an unusual couple, but you can’t see that just by looking.

Remember the last time you went out to dinner?  That nice man who held the door for you had a 9mm Beretta under his jacket.  The stylish woman beside him with the “Good evening” smile was recently shot at by Albanian gangsters.  The gentleman they met at the bar is the head of a government department so secret it doesn’t even have a name.  And the taxi they came in was driven by the youngest son of one of the richest and most powerful people in the world.  Do you remember any of that?  If you don’t, it’s alright because the real reason you probably never noticed Emily and Dreyfus when you saw them (and you did see them — somewhere) is you think they’re fictional.  And the wonderful thing about fictional characters is — we don’t always know the exact moment where our lives fade away and theirs begin.

Dreyfus and Emily’s adventures are coming soon. 

You can find them here at wdfyfe.com