Janet Miller

Janet Miller woke up with the sun in her face.  The window was open and there were singing summer birds.  She stretched her legs straight, then moved the duvet and carefully sat up.  She didn’t want to disturb the woman sleeping on the other side of the bed.  Janet liked mornings, preferred to have them alone and knew, from nasty experience, that Barina Andramoni was not a morning person.

Barina was an EU Agricultural Advisor from Northern Italy who spoke questionable English and knew more about anatomy than she did agronomy.  She had confessed to Janet, without much coaxing, that she had indeed lied (maybe una poca) on the EU application to get a free vacation in the UK, improve her English and maybe marry an aristocrat.  Two out of three missions accomplished, when her colleagues threatened to send her home for incompetence, Barina decided to trade down from Lord of the Manor.  Janet saw an opportunity and moved her out the orchard, into the office and into her bed.  The arrangement suited both women.   Janet, however, was not a lesbian; she wasn’t even curious (she’d played field hockey at boarding school, for God’s sake.)  No, Janet was enthusiastically heterosexual and that was the problem: her enthusiasm got in the way of her better judgement.  She’d married early, divorced early, and that seemed to be going on forever.  From there, she’d bounced into the arms of another Prince Charming who wasn’t, cried on Emily’s shoulder when he told her “It’s not you. It’s me.” and woke up the next morning, realizing he was right.  Men came with baggage.  And at that moment, Janet had a job she loved, a life she loved and was too delightfully busy every day to want to spent time carrying somebody else’s suitcases.  However, as we all know, it’s one thing to recognise that, intellectually, and quite another to remember it clearly on a warm summer night when the moon is full, the wineglass is half empty and moist lips and Mother Nature are whispering carnal delights in your ear.  Janet Miller was not made for a cloister.  So, when Barina became available, Janet decided she could bat from the other side of the wicket for a while, just to keep Mother Nature at bay.  And the extra added attraction was when the skies of October turned gloomy, Barina Andramoni would return to her side of the Alps and never give Inghilterra another thought.  (Which is exactly what happened.  A few years later, Barina moved to Milano and married a banker.)

Actually, Janet’s choice of summer lover tells you everything you need to know about her.  She was a pragmatist.  She got things done.  She solved problems.  And that morning, like every other morning for the past year, Janet Miller’s problem was keeping the Duchess of Weldon out of debtors prison.  So she stretched her shoulders, stood up and went off to enjoy her morning and get ready for work.

At first, the management arrangement at Pyraridge Hall had been ad hoc (hit and miss sounds just too unprofessional) but after a few trials and a lot of errors, Janet and Emily had settled on a routine that suited them both.  Estate business was conducted every morning, right after breakfast – Morning Prayers.  Emily told Janet what she wanted done, Janet told Emily what she had to do, and they usually sorted out a middle ground.  Actually, teaching Lady Perry-Turner how to be rich on a budget hadn’t been that difficult except for two serious sticking points – staff reductions and those stupid horses.  Everything else had been a slow and steady struggle to reduce expenses until the Estate could finally produce a decent income.  And that depended entirely on a massive EU Agricultural Grant and a dozen (minus Barina) advisors who were turning a neglected pear orchard into a thriving value-added brandy making business.  Janet wasn’t overjoyed that they’d put all the Estate eggs in one basket, but she had faith in Emily’s vision and was determined to make theirs the most profitable basket south of Hadrian’s Wall.  So every morning, (including Sunday) right after breakfast, Janet Miller walked into the breakfast room, fully prepared to move heaven and hell and bail high water to make certain her friend kept her home.  (She always paused slightly at the door in the one private formality between the two women.)

“Good morning, Miller.  It’s a fine morning this morning.”  Emily raised her coffee cup, “How’s the biscotti?”

“Don’t be cheeky, milady.  I shudder to think of the things you get up to when you’re down in that London.”

Emily gave Janet a knowing leer and set her cup down.  “What do we have this morning?”

Janet sat down and took her pen out of her coil notebook.

“Nothing but good news, I’m afraid.  The installation is ahead of schedule, and the vats are coming in next week.  You have to get on to the council for access through the village before they decide it’ll frighten the chickens and double our transportation costs.  Personal telephone calls, I should think.  Umm.  Samples of the barrels are on their way.” Janet looked up from her book, “God, you’d think they were made of gold — two local, one Danish.  We’ll let the Francoises [there were two of them] decide, but I think we should throw a bone to our European friends.”

“Foreign won’t look good.”

“It will if we have to go back to the EU well, but you’re right: locally, we should just keep quiet about it.”

“Alright, schedule me in, and I’ll let them convince me.”

“I’ll find somewhere else to be that day.”  Janet drew in a breath, “Nothing else immediate from that quarter, but the big news is the second EU payment is in the bank — which means we’re solvent again. The quarterly rents are due on Friday, so we’ll be practically rolling in it for an hour or two at the weekend.”

“The Witherspoons are struggling.”

“An extension?”  It wasn’t exactly a question. And Emily didn’t answer.

“We can’t keep doing this,” Janet said, knowing they would.

“Ninety days?”

“Thirty,” Janet said, automatically.


Janet thought about it.

“Sixty … plus interest … and we get first refusal on their eggs and potatoes this year.”

It was Emily’s turn to think about it.  “Potatoes only?”

“Done, but you have to come in from the left on this one.  I’m tired of being the evil queen.”

Emily exhaled, “Have you ever thought of playing poker – professionally?

“I wish.” Janet closed her book, “And that’s it, then?”

“Not quite.  I want to open a studio in London.”

Janet put her pen down.  “And this is in aid of?”

“We both know the biggest drain on the Estate is me.”

Janet interrupted, “We discussed this.  You’re the Duchess, and if you don’t come with all pomp and circumstance, we look like beggars.  And beggars do not get million pound loans from stuffy bankers.  You’re a necessary liability.” 

“I know, I know — but hear me out.  With a studio, I could set myself up as an event planner.  The smart set are always doing charities and galleries and whatnots and what-have-yous.  I know everybody, and they know everybody else.  And all that new money would love to have a Duchess pour the champagne when they’re showing off their collections or raising awareness or God only knows what else.  I could make a fortune just doing opening night parties for bad plays in Soho.”

Janet noticed the change in Emily’s accent and looked wary.  Soho!

“No, not like that.” Emily said, reading her friend’s mind and suddenly speaking through her teeth, “So-o-o-o bored with the Midlands, don’t you know, looking for something fun, just fun.  Top tier.  Our people.” Emily pushed her chin in the air, “Bar and Sandra and Tea-na, you remember Tea-na from school.”

Janet laughed at the mocking imitation.

“Tina’s still around, you know.” Emily said, changing her voice back to normal.

“God, I hope that cow has nightmares.”

The two women looked at each other, recalling a midnight prank that featured cayenne pepper and laughed.  A long, remembered, schoolgirl giggle.

“She probably does.  But seriously, Jans!  These people have money, and we could use some of it.

Janet had already seen the potential.  She didn’t like the idea, but it made sense.  “We can’t afford Knightsbridge.”

“No, but there has to be a storefront property available in Notting Hill somewhere.  I’ll turn it into shabby chic, and have them queuing for blocks.  Two or three a year, and that’ll pay my way, and everything else is found.  I have to be in London, anyway.  We could …”

“Stop.  Alright, actually this sounds good, but I need a real plan with real numbers — today, tomorrow, as soon as.  I’m going to have to skim the EU money to get you started, and that money better be back in the coffers by October one, or you and I are going to go down for fraud.”  It was Janet’s serious voice.

“I’ll dot the I’s and cross the T’s by the weekend.  This will work.  I’ve already got a couple of potentials, and I’m certain Dickie Morton’s got property going begging.  Besides, if it all goes wrong, you and I can always get a barrow and peddle potatoes.”

“Until they catch us,” Janet said, standing up.

“Until they catch us,” Emily replied, widening her eyes.  And both women laughed.

Under The Windows – Complete

“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. “This from a woman who eats breakfast in a cathedral.  Besides, 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.

Emily sat in the big chair by the tall windows, wrapped in a sheet — toga style.  She was warm — content without being sleepy.  It was raining and the light was January dim.  She took a bite of old, cold pizza and considered the half glass of wine.

“What time is it?”

Dreyfus half rolled over in the bed to look at the clock.  “Six, just gone.”

Emily tried to look through the rain to the city across the river for a reference.  The lights were all wet and runny.    

“Is that morning or afternoon?”

For a second Dreyfus wasn’t sure. “Morning … I think.  Why?”

“I have to go home.  I have work to do — I hope?  I haven’t done anything since before Christmas.” Emily sat up and put the half-finished slice of pizza back in the box. “And I didn’t get paid for that.”

“Back to the country?”  Dreyfus sat up.

“No, Notting Hill.  I have to go to the studio.  I need to get my mail.  See who’s on my answering machine.”  Emily shook her head, “I have things that …”

“Wait. Wait.  It’s pouring out there.  Nothing’s that urgent.”

Emily was about to answer but stopped, startled.

“Jesus Christ!  My suitcase is still at the airport!”

Dreyfus shrugged.

“I don’t have any clothes, Sinclair!  Somebody broke the zippers on my one and only pair of slacks.” It was an accusation. “Any hope of a couple of safety pins?”

Dreyfus looked at her as if she’d asked him for a unicorn.

“I didn’t think so.” Emily looked around, “And where?  Never mind.  If you find my knickers, burn them.”

Dreyfus chuckled and swung his legs over the bed.

“I need to have a shower.” Emily stood up, moved her hips uncomfortably and frowned.  “And you need to shave.”

Dreyfus stood up and rubbed his chin.  “Okay.  Okay.  Slow down.  It’s Sunday.”  Dreyfus closed one eye and thought about it, “Yeah, it’s Sunday.  Let’s go take a shower and we can figure things out from there.” 

Emily tightened her lips, looked sideways and stuck her arm straight out with her index finger in the air.  The sheet drooped provocatively and she clutched it with her other hand.

“No.  You stay over there.  I’m perfectly capable of having a shower by myself.”

 “What if you get soap in your eyes?”  Dreyfus smiled.

“That’s the only thing that’s going to be in me for a bit.  And put some … clothes …” Emily paused and took a quick look around.  For the first time, she realized there was nothing in the loft but a bed, an upholstered chair and a small round table.

“Where are your clothes?”  It was a cautious question.

Dreyfus looked vague and gestured to the floor in front of him.

“No, your clothes?  Suits?  Ties?  Shirts?  Clothes?  Your clothes?”

“Oh,” Dreyfus laughed and pointed, “Behind that wall.”

It was Emily’s turn to look vague.

“Here, I’ll show you.”

Dreyfus stepped up, walked across the bed and stepped down.

He certainly does look good naked, Emily thought, without actually thinking.

Dreyfus pushed one of the white bricks and part of the wall swung open, throwing a slant of hard light across the dim loft.  Emily couldn’t see into the space properly, but it looked large.

“It’s a closet … um …” Dreyfus twinkled his fingers, “Ah – a walk-in closet.  I keep everything in here.  There’s another one just like it on the other side.  That’s where you can put your things.”

Suddenly, it was definitely morning.  There was no mistaking it.  Emily wondered why men always got so nesty after an abundance of sex.  She smiled to herself.  It was as if, having discovered a source, they were determined to safeguard the supply.

“Do you have Narnia in there?”

Dreyfus detected the subtle millimetre of distance in Emily’s tone.  It was definitely morning.

“I haven’t found it yet, but I can probably find you something to wear.  It won’t be stylish, but it’ll cover the vital bits.”

Emily recognized the step back in Dreyfus’ voice, as well.  It was nice to be understood.  She turned, dropped the sheet and walked across to the bathroom.

“Fresh towels in the …”

“Nah, I’m alright.”

Dreyfus watched her walk away.

Sometime later, Emily leaned on the rail and looked down at Dreyfus.  He was sitting at the table behind a newspaper and a silver pot that was probably coffee.  She hadn’t noticed it before, but the whole place was cloister bare – all straight lines and flat surfaces.  There weren’t even handles on the cupboard doors.  She rubbed her hair with the towel.  The shower had been difficult — too many knobs and she couldn’t remember how Dreyfus had manipulated them.  But eventually, she got hot water, and now she felt crisp and clean, although between Dreyfus’ sandpaper soap and eau d’antelope shampoo, she thought she smelled a little manly.  She rubbed her hair and walked back to the bathroom to get rid of the towel.

Dreyfus had left clothes on the bed, a gigantic pair of wool hygge socks and a kosovorotka shirt with white brocade at the neck and cuffs.  It was long, but oddly, aside from the sleeves, it fit rather well.  She tried the belt – it made her look like cinched-in potatoes.  She discarded it and rolled up the sleeves as she walked down the stairs.

“What do you think?” she asked at the bottom and did a heel to toe catwalk walk across the room.

Dreyfus folded the newspaper and dropped it on the floor.  “Pure sex.  That shirt certainly fits you a lot better than it ever did me.  Coffee in the pot and cups behind me.  No cream, I’m afraid.  And there’s sugar somewhere, but I …” Dreyfus shrugged.

“Black is fine,” Emily said, picking a cup off the tree.  She sat down across from Dreyfus and poured herself coffee.  It was a dull and rainy day, but the light through windows told her it was definitely day.  

“I sent Sydney to find your suitcase.”

“Mh-mh, Sydney.” Emily sort of laughed, then thought about it. “My suitcase isn’t lost.  It’s at baggage claim.” She saw the question on Dreyfus’ face and added, “I was in a hurry.”

He smiled and nodded.  “Do you want me to have him stop and pick up your mail or bring you anything?”

Emily sipped her coffee.  “No, but maybe he could wait while I get changed and then take me home.”

Dreyfus considered his options.  He didn’t want Emily to go home.  But the truth was she was the first woman who’d ever been in the loft the morning after the night (nights?) before, and he really didn’t know what to do with her.  “I thought we could go out to dinner.”

Emily put her cup down.  “It’s seven-thirty in the morning?”

Dreyfus tilted his head, “Early dinner?”

It was Emily’s turn to consider the options.  She didn’t really want to go home, but sitting having your morning coffee in somebody else’s clothes doesn’t offer a lot of reasonable alternatives.

“You know, we’ve never really had a first date.  And I’ve had a standing reservation for us at Clos Maggiore since – uh – December.  We could get some proper food.  I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely tired of takeaway.  Fresh air.  Take a walk in the rain.  Go see a show if you like?  Or …” 

It all sounded fine, but getting there was the problem, and Emily, still a little muddled over the last few days and trying hard to work with “This is your closet.” suddenly found herself speaking.

“For God’s sake, Dreyfus!  What the hell do you do in this place when you’re not on top of me?”

Dreyfus laughed.  It was a good laugh, full of fun.

“Fair question,” he said and made no attempt to explain.

“Seriously,” Emily said, looking around, “You’ve got a coffee pot, four cups and a …” She waved her hand.

“Toaster,” Dreyfus volunteered.

“A toaster.” She sat back in her chair.  “Gandhi had more personal possessions.  There’s nothing here.  This is on the road to pathological.”

“You just noticed?”

“I’ve been busy.” Emily widened her eyes.

Dreyfus laughed again and shook his head.

“Don’t worry.  I don’t have a mental disorder.  I just spend a lot of time living out of a suitcase, and I like it that way.  So …” He opened his hands.

Emily stopped in mid thought and thought about it.  It made perfect sense, actually.  Dreyfus Sinclair was the most ego neutral man she’d ever met; of course that would show up in his personal life.

“My place must have driven you crazy.  Five centuries of clutter.”

“No, it’s not like that.”  Dreyfus shrugged, “I don’t care what other people do.”

“But what is it you do?  I mean here.” Emily moved her hands, “By yourself.  I know you don’t listen to music.”

Dreyfus pointed a warning finger, and Emily almost giggled.

“I don’t know.  What everybody does?” He half squinted at her, “I read.  I write.  There’s always letters to write.  I like doing that.  I go out.  I – uh – I go to school.  When the mood takes me.”


“Yeah, there’s a lot of schools in London.  Weekends, evening classes.  I’ve taken all kinds of things.  History.  Geography.  I took a woodworking class once.  Fascinating!  All those little machines that do things.  Last spring, I took Ballroom Dancing.  That was fun.”

Emily felt a deep involuntary twitch as she imagined Dreyfus in a tuxedo. “Can you tango?”

“No,” Dreyfus exhaled, “I had to fly out to – umm – Germany, I think. I didn’t finish.  But I can box step like a champion.”

“They never taught us tango at Cheltenham Ladies.  I’ve always thought it was a huge gap in my education.”

There was a pause.  And for Emily, that moment was the best moment of the morning — when Dreyfus didn’t immediately offer to sign them up for lessons.  It meant that “This is your closet” was simply a place to put her clothes.

“Any chance of some toast?” she asked and poured herself more coffee,

Sometime later, Sydney showed up with her suitcase and long Italian sandwiches – said his hellos, read the room, admired Emily’s hand and made his goodbyes.  Eventually, Dreyfus went up to shower and shave.  Emily’s suitcase was distinctly tropical, but she added a layer, and with a hairband elastic crimped at the hip for a more formal look.  Then, unfashionably early, they called a taxi and finally managed to have a first date.

You can find the start of Dreyfus and Emily’s adventures here

Istanbul — Complete

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 toward 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 put her handbag on 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. “Tesekkurler,” 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.

Tesekkurler,” Emily said again, 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 businessman, 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.

Later that night when the telephone rang, Emily thought seriously about being asleep.  It wasn’t actually late, but two hours of Turkish TV had made her grouchy.  Dreyfus was probably just trying to make it up to her, but she wasn’t sure she was in the mood to be seduced.  On the other hand, Dreyfus didn’t really call unless he had something to say.  Now she was curious.  She picked up the receiver.

“Who’s calling, please?”

There was a small laugh. “Are you decent?”

“Barely.”  Emily was wearing the hotel bathrobe.

“I’m in the bar.  Come for a nightcap.”

“We drink too much,” she said, but the line was hollow.

Emily looked around.  Last night’s dress was too complicated and tomorrow’s skirt was for tomorrow and she’d already taken off her makeup, and she really didn’t want to put on a bra.  And … ah, the hell with it!  The bar was probably closed anyway, and Sinclair had just scammed a bottle of something and was sitting in a corner.  She found a pair of jeans from the suitcase and pulled them on (careful with the zipper) and when she couldn’t find a top, just grabbed one of Sinclair’s sweatshirts.  It was too big everywhere, but she pushed up the sleeves, picked up the room key card and went down to find him.

The bar was closed, but it wasn’t empty.  There were three tables that still had people and thick candles burning, two at the entry and one towards the back, along the water.  She picked her way through the dark tables and sat down.  It was surprisingly chilly on the banks of the Bosporus. 

“Is that my shirt?”

“It’s the closest you’re going to get to touching me tonight.”  Emily reached for the glass, “You know, we drink too much.”

Dreyfus shrugged. “Probably, but I’ve got a great story that’s worth a glass of wine.”

Emily lifted her glass.  Even in the candlelight, she could see Dreyfus was having fun.  Now she was curious.  Emily slipped her sandals off and tucked her feet up underneath her in the big upholstered chair.  It was a perfect night for one of Sinclair’s stories.  She tasted the wine and kept the glass in her hand.  ‘Alright, Sinclair, what have you got?”

Dreyfus sat back in his chair, just on the edge of the candlelight.  He was a shadow and a voice. “The guy I talked to tonight?”

“Karga?” Emily volunteered.

“Yeah.  He’s a big deal.  He’s been calling the shots around here since Methuselah was in diapers.  Before you and I were even born.  The man’s an institution.  But way back in the day, when he was still getting his hands dirty, he ran with a woman.  A real badass bandit queen.  They call her Sahin, the Falcon.  She made her bones smuggling whisky and cigarettes, from here across the Black Sea into the old Soviet Union.  But get this — in a sailing ship.”

“What?  When was this?” 

“I don’t know.  60s?  70s?  Something like that.  Real old school Cold War stuff.  Moonless nights, secret coves, sneaking under the radar.”  Dreyfus moved his shoulders back and forth, “Dodging patrol boats.  Right out of the movies.  This goes on for years, and the Russians can’t catch her.”

“Sinclair, are you falling in love?”

Dreyfus put his hands wide and smiled.  He took a sip of his wine. “Finally, the Russians have had enough, and they send in a Spetsnaz team and blow up her boat.”

Emily didn’t know what a Spetsnaz team was, but Sinclair was clearly impressed.

“But she doesn’t care.  It just makes her mad.  She starts running the stuff in trucks up the coast through Bulgaria.  But by now, she’s the people’s hero.  Romanian kids are spray painting her name on buildings.  The Ukrainians are printing cartoons of Brezhnev with bird shit on his shoulder.  The Soviets are looking like idiots and it’s embarrassing.  They call in the military.  They’ve got soldiers, patrols, road blocks, helicopters, you name it, everything out there looking for her, but she just keeps rolling.  They know she’s coming, but they can’t do anything about it.  Our girl’s playing dodgeball with the Red Army — and winning.”

“You are in love.”

“Of course.  Aren’t you?”

Emily took a drink and thought about it.

“Last resort, they put a bounty on her, 250 thousand American dollars.  Back then, that’s Bill Gates money, and eventually somebody rats her out and she gets caught.

“Shit!”  Emily had been cheering for Sahin ever since the Russians blew up her boat.

“The Soviets put her on trial.  It’s a show trial.”  Dreyfus made a throw away gesture, “She in a glass cage, handcuffs, manacles.  And they televise it.  See what happens when you piss off the glorious people’s revolution or some such.  Anyway, she’s convicted — obviously — and gets 20 years.”

Emily straightened up in her chair.  “This isn’t a very good story.”

“No, no wait!”  Dreyfus put his hand up, “That’s not the end of it.  They put her on a train. Off to the Gulag.  But somewhere along the way, she grabs a guard and jumps.

“Oh, my God!”

“Yeah, jumps from a moving train!  This woman is not going to Siberia, regardless.  They stop the train.  Big palaver.  Run back and all they find is a prison uniform and the guard in her underwear, lying there with a broken neck.  The falcon has flown.  Completely disappeared and nobody has seen or heard of her since.” 

“Where did she go?”

Dreyfus shrugged.  “Nobody knows.  But, talk about a legend.  She’s the real deal.  They’ve written songs about this woman.”

Emily thought about it.  “Okay, but that evil-looking fellow didn’t interrupt our evening just so his father could tell you a cool adventure story.”

“No, he didn’t.” Dreyfus poured more wine and offered the bottle.  Emily nodded.  “The thing is, a couple of days ago, Sahin, the bandit queen, came back.  She showed up, out of nowhere, here, in Istanbul.  Phoned her old buddy Karga and said, ‘Hi, did you miss me?’  Apparently, some friend of hers daughter got abducted in Rome, and she’s come out of retirement to get her back.”

“Wait a minute.  She must be an old lady by now.” 

“I think that’s why she got in touch with her partner in crime.  He’s the local muscle.”

After years in the company of Dreyfus Sinclair, Emily knew exactly what that meant.

 “Anyway, Karga knows where the girl is, and he knows the people who have her.  And even though he wants to do a favour for an old friend – and not just any old friend — he really doesn’t want to get into a barney with these nasties.  He’s got to live here.  So, he’s asked me to help him out for – uh — plausible deniability.  He doesn’t want his fingerprints anywhere.” 

“Who took the girl?”


Dreyfus could feel Emily’s eyes through the darkness.

“Okay, Russians,” he admitted.


“And – uh — she’s on her way to China for a short movie career.  So, I said yes, I’d do it.”

“Are we going to get shot at?”  Emily had had some experience with Russians — and Albanians.

“No, no, nothing like that.  Karga’s boys are going to do the heavy lifting.  I just wait until they’re gone, drive in, pick up the girl and deliver her back to her rightful owner.”

Dreyfus took a drink.

“I’m going to meet Sahin — her real name is Sylvia Harrow, by the way — and her granddaughter, tomorrow in the Grand Bazaar to arrange it.  Probably for tomorrow night.  We need to do this quickly.”

“I’m coming too.  I want to see you fluttering around like the biggest fanboy.”

Dreyfus leaned forward, “Fanboy?” 

Emily dipped her head, tipped her glass and looked at Dreyfus from the top of her eyes.  She was about to say … but out of the shadows there was a slight change in Dreyfus’ face, subtle, elusive but Emily recognized it.  Storytime was over.

Emily put her feet back on the floor, tucked them into her sandals and stood up.  “I’m going to go to bed.”  She stepped around the table, leaned down and kissed Dreyfus on the cheek.

“Can you fix this?”  Emily said softly.

“Yeah.” Dreyfus nodded.

“Alright.  Don’t stay up all night,” she said, turned and walked away.

The Grand Bazaar is the one of the few tourist destinations in the world that attracts more locals than foreigners.  But there are still enough yabancilar bargaining for trinkets to allow a couple sitting with their helva and coffee to go unnoticed.  Dreyfus loved these kinds of places – busy with people, commerce and history – smooth-stone old and full of stories.  Plus, he knew that the very best way to remain unseen is to stay in plain sight.  Emily, on the other hand, wasn’t sure how to act inconspicuously and kept adjusting her pashmina and sunglasses – until Dreyfus gave her his guidebook and told her to quit.  They sat on the edge of a crowd of tables so Dreyfus could see Café Havuzlu’s crowd of tables and both approaches.  He had watched Sylvia Harrow and her granddaughter Madison walk in and sit down and was only mildly surprised that grandma didn’t look like a grandma, at all.  However, Madison was exactly the kind of pouty teenager he thought she’d be.  He sipped his coffee.

“Can you take care of the granddaughter?  I want her away from the table,” Dreyfus said evenly without turning his head.

“Are they here?”

“Straight across on the right.  No rush.  Finish your coffee.”  Dreyfus’ expression didn’t change.

Emily gave the market an exaggerated casual glance.  It didn’t matter: Dreyfus already knew that no one was being watched or followed.  Ms. Harrow had covered her tracks.  She knew what she was doing, and Dreyfus preferred to work with people who did.  He relaxed – barely.  Emily did not and nervously ate another helva.  A minute or so later, Dreyfus raised a finger to the waiter and pulled a 50 Lira note out of his pocket.  He folded it once and put it underneath his coffee cup.  Then he stood up and reached for Emily’s hand.

“We’re going to walk straight across, no hurry, no purpose,” Dreyfus said and stepped forward.  Emily caught his hand and stepped in beside him.  Several steps later …

“Well, hi!  Imagine running into you guys here!” Dreyfus’ voice was North American loud but still mostly lost in the noise of the market.

“Look, Emily!  It’s Sylvia and Madison.  What are you two doing in Istanbul?”

Before anyone could answer, Dreyfus sat down and, in a much quieter voice, said, “Emily, why don’t you take Madison shopping and … stay where I can see you.”

Emily stepped forward. She had one job: she hooked her hand under Madison’s elbow, practically pulled her out of the chair and moved her quickly into the market.  They were deep in the crowd before Madison reacted and shook her arm out of Emily’s grasp.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Emily stopped. “Sinclair has some business to discuss with your grandmother, and from what I understand, we don’t want to hear it.  Okay.  So let’s just …”

“I’m not going anywhere.  I don’t know you.”

“I don’t know you either, but from what I do know about Sylvia Harrow, you and I need to be somewhere else right now.”

“You don’t know my grandmother.”

“Apparently, neither do you.  She’s a bit of a legend around here.”

“Yeah, so everybody keeps telling me,” Madison said sarcastically.

Emily grabbed Madison by the shoulder, reached up with her other hand and pulled off the girl’s sunglasses.

“Alright, little girl!  Lose the attitude!  Look, in case you haven’t noticed, these people are serious and they don’t have time to deal with a petulant teenager.  You need to keep quiet and let the adults work.”

“My grandmother …”

“Your grandmother is busy.  She’s trying to make sure some other silly kid doesn’t end up with a short and very nasty movie career.  Okay?  They’re not planning the prom over there.  And if they don’t do it right, people are going to get killed.  Do you understand that?”

Emily could see that Madison didn’t – not really.  But her eyes said she was trying hard.  Clever child.  And for that couple of seconds, Emily remembered, without thinking, when she was young – nothing more than a girl — suddenly dealing with a dose of lethal reality.  She knew what the beckoning fear in Madison’s stomach felt like.  The terror of not being able to run and not knowing what to do if you don’t.  She felt a lot more sympathy for this poor girl who was clearly out of her depth.

“Don’t worry,” she said, gently. “Your grandmother knows what she’s doing.  Back in the day, she used to play hide and seek with the Russian army.  And believe me, that’s a good trick.  I know a little bit about dealing with Russians.”

Emily fluttered her left hand, showing off her missing ring finger.  Madison moved her eyes in surprise.  Emily smiled and dropped her hand.

“Do you know how your grandmother got away?  How she escaped?”

“No, I … she never told me.” Madison said, utterly deflated.

“The story goes, on the prison train from Kiev to Siberia she got one of the KGB guards in a chokehold and jumped.” Emily arched her eyebrow, “Moving train.”

Emily made a diving motion with her hand.

“I – uh – didn’t …”

“Hey,” Emily half laughed, “Your grandmother’s hardcore.  If anybody can do this thing, she can.  It’s going to be alright, but you need to keep your mouth shut and just do as you’re told.  Okay?”

Emily gave Madison back her sunglasses with the hand that was missing a finger.  She watched Madison’s eyes.

“It was a business deal.  Sinclair got what he wanted, and I lost a finger.  Now, c’mon!  Let’s go look at some scarves.”

“Ms. Harrow, my name is Dreyfus Sinclair.”

To Sylvia, Dreyfus Sinclair looked like a college professor who needed some sleep, not exactly the sort she had expected.

“Sylvia, please.”

“We need to make this brief.  Right now, we’re just a couple of expats who ran into each other by chance.  Let’s keep it quick and simple.  I have the person you’re looking for, or at least I will very soon.  How are you getting out of the country?”

“You talked to Karga?”

“For our purposes, Ms. Harrow, I’ve never heard of him.  What’s your plan to get out of the country?”

This was business.

“I’ve got passports and a car waiting just inside the Bulgarian border.  We drive across and either …”

Sinclair put his hand in the air. “Since the refugees, the border is a lot tighter than it used to be, and there’s no way of knowing who those guys are working for.”

“I know the roads.  There are a lot of ways for silly women to get into Bulgaria.  The passports are to get out again.”

“Do you know your way in the dark?”

Sylvia nodded.

“And when can you be ready to go?”

“Right now.  All I need is time to rent a car.”

“Don’t.  I’ve rented one for you.”  Dreyfus reached into to his pocket and handed her a key. “Dump it when you’re done.”

Sylvia took the key.

“Walk straight that way until you get to the street, and press the fob.  It’s the exact same model as mine, so you’ll know what to look for, when we make the switch.  The only difference is yours is black and mine is white.  Do you know the Mall of Istanbul?”

“The big one right on the highway?  I can find it.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you there tonight at the main entrance, front and centre, just after dark.  Nine o’clock.  There’ll be lots of tourists, so nobody’s going to notice a couple more.  And I doubt if anybody’s going to think of checking the CCTV at a shopping mall – at least not right away.  We make the switch, and you head for the border.  And don’t stop.  Once the Albanians figure out what’s going on, they’re going to make life very unpleasant around here.  You need to be as far away as possible.  I’m going to use my car as the decoy.  I’ll leave it someplace conspicuous — that should slow them down for a while, but not forever.  They’re going to start checking, and unfortunately you’re already on everybody’s radar.  So, if you can, don’t go back to the hotel, and stay away from your Turkish friends.  That’s the first place they’ll look.”

Dreyfus watched Sylvia trace the plan in her mind.  Yeah, Emily was right: he was a fanboy.

“Okay.  I need a place to stay out of sight today.  Maddy needs some sleep, and I have to make sure my people are in place.”

“Do you know Salema’s?”


“Uh – it used to be – uh — Ev Nabil?”

“Yes, I know it.  It’ll work.”

“Okay, I’ll see you at nine – Mall of Istanbul — and if I’m not there by nine thirty, clear out and run for the border because everything’s gone sideways.”

Dreyfus started to get up.

“Thank you,” Sylvia said sincerely, “I – uh – I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this.”

Dreyfus laughed, “No worries.  From what I hear, you used to do this stuff in your sleep.  I’ll send Madison back in a minute,” and then louder, “No problem.  Your hotel tomorrow night for dinner.  ‘Til then.”

Dreyfus raised his hand and walked away.

After Madison went back to her grandmother, Emily and Dreyfus wandered and shopped (Emily bought a bracelet) for another half an hour to make certain the two women were gone.  Then they left the market and stood at the entrance.

“There’s a white Rav4 around here somewhere.” Dreyfus clicked the fob in his hand.  There was a flash and a beep at the end of the street.  Dreyfus offered his arm, and Emily fell into step.

“When you go get the girl, I’m going to come with you,” she said.

“No, I don’t think so.”

Emily wasn’t interested in Dreyfus’ opinion. “That girl is frightened out of her skin, Sinclair.  And I have a fairly good idea how this Karga fellow is going to convince the Albanians to let her go.  Then you’re going to show up with your business face on and scare the shit out of her.”

Dreyfus stopped and turned to Emily.

Without turning to look, Emily pointed her finger forward.  “No!  That girl’s been through enough, and that’s an end to it,” she said and started walking.

Dreyfus thought about it and gave one long exasperated exhale.  He took a few quick steps forward and offered Emily his arm, again.

“I’m really not that scary,” he said.

“Dreyfus, you might act like a teddy bear, and I love you dearly, but on dark nights, wolves make fires to keep you away.”

Slightly giddy with tension, Emily looked across at the derelict buildings of the old docks and decided that all they needed was a blanket of fog to turn this into a 40s gangster movie.  They’d been sitting for what seemed like hours (less than twenty minutes) by a tangle of wire, rust and weeds that used to be a fence.  And even though they were hidden in the long shadow late evening light, they could see from the water to the roadway clearly enough to read the graffiti on the corrugated metal walls.  There were scraps of rope and wood lying around and chain and large haphazard shapes of metal, some corroded barrels and scattered dilapidated crates.  It was a lonely, dirty place that smelled thirsty, oily and stained.

But Dreyfus didn’t see any of that.  All he saw was the long open space between the buildings on the right and the one by the water that he was interested in.  He’d already mentally driven down, turned the car and taken Emily in to get the girl.  He’d already counted the seconds, and the only thought he had now was, even though he knew Emily had been right to insist on coming, he wished he’d left her at the hotel.

There was movement.

There.  On the edge of the furthest building.  Just?  But, but, Dreyfus wasn’t certain.  He clenched his eyes closed — one … two … three … and open.  Yes, it was still there.  And another one.  And … Dreyfus slightly brushed his hand against Emily’s leg and pointed his finger over the dashboard.

“Just like we talked about,” he said without moving his eyes. “Wait for me to turn and …”

“I know what I’m doing,” Emily snapped, pushed the bottle of water away with her foot and picked the flashlight up from the floor.

The shadows were real now.  Five men moving quickly, quietly, half crouching, half running across the open space from the buildings on the right.  They didn’t stop at the building by the water, but — in one continuous motion — flung open the door and were inside.  There were flashes of light through the open door and muffled pops as if someone was snapping bubble wrap.  And then the men were outside again.  They paused, looked around and started back the way they had come.  Dreyfus reached for the ignition.

Suddenly, the world burst open in sharp lines of whining fire that staccato cracked and ricocheted against the broken pavement.  One of the running men folded over like a puppet without strings and another, stuttered, fell and struggled to his feet.  The rest dropped to the ground, shooting.

“Shit!”  Dreyfus turned the ignition key and looked behind him.

“No,” Emily shouted, “We can’t leave her.”

Dreyfus turned, his face fierce with argument.  “You’ll have to go in alone!” he shouted.

“I know.  Go!  Go!” Emily shouted back — her teeth tight.

But it was Emily’s eyes Dreyfus saw, and without hesitation, he pushed the car into gear and accelerated forward into the firefight.

It wasn’t thinking anymore, just instinct — foot on the pedal, across the asphalt, behind the men, turn, turn, turn, gripping the steering wheel and leaning to help the car doughnut around to the door of the building.  The zipping, hot metal hissing chaos, coming at them, around them, trying to find them.  The tires squealed in pain, fishtailed and straightened, and Dreyfus drove his foot into the accelerator and then wham into the brake.  The car slid and screamed and jerked hard as it stopped.

“Go!” Dreyfus shouted, pulled the Beretta from under his arm and shot two-handed through the open window.  The explosions were sharp, loud and terrifying.

Emily lunged out of the car, stumbled, lurched and ran for the door.  Inside she turned on the flashlight.  There were three men dead at the table: one still in his chair and two more on the floor in pools of glistening blood.  Emily gagged and turned the light up to the walls.  There were two doors.  She ran to the first one, shouting.

“Hello!  Are you there?”

The door was locked.  Key!  The key!  She banged on the door.

“Are you there?  Tell me if you’re there!  I’ve come to get you!”

There were sounds, cries and, “Yes!  Yes!  We’re here!”

Key!  Emily turned the flashlight back to the table.  There had to be a key.  She ran back, the surge of adrenaline killing her gag reflex.  There was no key.  No key!  Emily fanned the light across the room.  Something.  Something heavy.  Nothing.  Shit!  Shit!  Shit!  She turned the light back to the table.  Something!  There was an assault rifle leaning on the wall.  She snatched it up and ran back to the door.  She put the flashlight on the floor, grabbed the gun with both hands and drove the butt straight down on the door knob.  The old wood groaned.  She tightened her grip and drove it down again.  The knob bent.  Once more.  She slammed the butt down as hard as she could, and there was a crack as the wood splintered.  Emily dropped the gun, turned around and kicked backwards with the flat of her foot.  The wood around the knob shattered, and the door was free.

Emily picked up the flashlight, shone it forward and stepped into the room.  “Oh, my God!”  She hadn’t expected the smell, but it was the eyes that shocked her.  Fever-bright, frightened animal eyes, cringing against the light.  Emily shone the light across the floor to the open door. 

“C’mon!  Nobody’s going to hurt you, but we have to go!  We have to go now!”

She shone the light back.  The room was alive with movement.  Emily stopped.  Eyes?  There wasn’t one girl here; there were half a dozen!  There was a second, maybe two — and then another surge of adrenaline and Emily recovered.

“Come on.  Now.  Let’s go!  Let’s go!”

Emily waited until they were all out of the room. “Stay close to me.  Follow the light.  Don’t look.  Just follow the light.”

Outside, the evening was loud, popping with sound, but it was away from them – somewhere else.  Coming out of the darkness, Emily squinted against the late light.  She grabbed at the backdoor handle, missed and tried again.  The door opened.

“Dreyfus. . .”

“Later.  It was an ambush.  They’ve taken the fight to the road.  Get her in here.  We have …” Dreyfus twisted his head, “What the hell?”

“We haven’t got one girl; we’ve got five.”

“Get them in.  We’ll figure it out later.  C’mon.”  Dreyfus kept the Beretta pointed through the window.  Emily managed to get one seat folded down and then half pushed the first girl in.

“All the way back.  Move.  All the way.  MOVE!”

The next three understood and scrambled in, then there was hesitation and Emily simply lifted the last girl and shoved her in on top of everyone else.  She slammed the door and shouted, “Go!  Go! Go!” as she jumped into the front seat.  Dreyfus tossed the gun into Emily’s lap, found the gear, accelerated and they were moving fast back through the broken gate before Emily got her door closed.


There are three bridges over the Bosporus, and Dreyfus was driving hard for the middle one, Sultan Mehmet.  He’d memorized the route and there wasn’t much traffic, but he was having trouble – a lot of trouble.  The truth is Dreyfus wasn’t a very good driver, and he knew it.  Plus, unlike lines on a map, Istanbul streets were narrow and indistinguishable.  And it didn’t help that there was a military-green Land Rover appearing and disappearing in his rear view mirror, or that Emily was on her knees beside him, leaning into the back seat with her damn ass in the air.  She was struggling to untangle a tangle of terrified arms and legs.  The five girls were trying their best, but they were frightened and confused, shaking and sobbing.  One poor thing, directly behind Dreyfus, had drunk the water too fast and was gagging it back up in long, slimy strings.  Dreyfus tightened his concentration.

“Just sit up.  Sit up!  There.  Now put your foot.  No, no, here … move just a bit … Like.  Yes, there!” Emily turned her head to Dreyfus.  “We have to stop so I can fix the seats!”

“No!” Dreyfus’ voice was measured, “Not until we get across the bridge.”  Dreyfus turned into another nondescript street.  “Do the best you can.”  Forward, he still couldn’t see the approach to the highway.  He checked the rear view mirror.  Not there now – not yet, anyway.  Then, there is was again – the Land Rover.  This wasn’t just someone out for an evening drive; it was definitely the Albanians, likely a spotter car, sent after them from the firefight and probably already calling for reinforcements.  If he could get to the highway, Dreyfus knew he could lose them in the asphalt knots of entrances and exits – but where the hell was it?

A car surprised him, coming out of a side street.  Dreyfus automatically swerved, throwing everyone screaming sideways, and the other driver jammed his brakes and lay on the horn.  Just past the avoided collision, Dreyfus stomped his own brakes, found reverse by feel, spun the steering wheel and, less than five seconds later, was accelerating backwards.  He hit the stopped car just in front of the passenger door, crumpling the hood and the front quarter panel.  More screams and Emily with some industrial-strength swearing, but the thick rubber bumper of the larger Rav 4 absorbed most of the impact.  Dreyfus shifted back to drive, pushed hard on the gas pedal and sped off.  The Land Rover was trapped behind the wrecked car – for now.  But it was the two or three minutes Dreyfus needed to find the bridge and get over to the European side.  Once he was there, he could get off the highway and disappear out of the range of the traffic cameras.

Thirty minutes later, that’s where they were — away from the cameras, parked on a side street.  Dreyfus had folded the back seats down, and Emily had rearranged the girls so that, even if they weren’t comfortable, they could at least lean on each other.  They didn’t care.  They were still in shock, hollow-eyed, empty with exhaustion and clinging to Emily’s voice.  She left the passenger door open and stepped back to where Dreyfus was closing the hatchback.

“Alright, that should do for now.  Are you sure you don’t want me to drive the rest of the way?”  Dreyfus didn’t miss the slight slap against his automotive skills.  Lady Perry-Turner was nothing if not resilient.   

“No, the alibi’s more important.  But I don’t see any cabs around here.”

“Don’t worry about that.  I’ll find my way to the St. Regis.  But I’m going to have a big drink before I go back to the hotel.”

Dreyfus smiled, “Have one for me.”  He exhaled and raised five fingers.  “This blows the hell out of Plan A.  I’ll deposit our girl, whichever one she is, but I’m going to have to get the others over the border.  They’re not safe here.  Russians?”  Dreyfus shook his head, “They’ve got a long reach in this town.”

“Do what you do.  Just fix it.  I’ll be at the hotel until you get there, and if anybody asks, you’re upstairs — dying of diarrhea.”  Emily smiled.

Dreyfus rolled his eyes skyward.

“Go, you’re going to be late.”  Emily reached up and kissed him, turned and went back to the passenger door.  She stuck her head in.

“Girls.  Okay, just a little bit longer.  Stay quiet, and we’ll get you out of here as soon as we can.  Alright?”  Emily closed the door.  She wasn’t sure if the girls understood or not, but she didn’t think it mattered anyway.  She walked away.

Dreyfus got in the driver’s seat and started the engine.  He watched Emily for a few seconds, then turned the car into the street and drove past her.  He only had the original route to the Mall of Istanbul in his head.  That meant getting back onto the highway and being seen by the traffic cameras, but he knew he had at least a twenty minute head start on the Albanians, and he didn’t want to waste it.

Emily walked around the corner and stopped at the first open shop window.

Taksi nerede?” she asked.

“One street more,” the man answered in English and pointed, “Busy street, lady.  A lot of taxis.  You go there.”

Tesekkurler,” Emily said, turned and walked away, vaguely wondering how Dreyfus was going to get those girls over the border.

Two hours later, Dreyfus had abandoned his car at the furthest point away from where the S.S. Delfini was still tied up to the dock — directly across from it, on the European side of the Bosporus.  As he walked away, he could see the emergency lights flashing across the water.  He had to duck into a doorway as several sirens wailed past him.  Driving over the speed limit under a lot of traffic cameras had helped the authorities — and the Albanians, and probably the Russians — find him.  He waited until the sounds of the sirens weren’t moving anymore, and then walked away.  The empty car would keep them busy for a while, and every minute meant Sylvia Harrow and the girls were closer to the border.  Sylvia Harrow was quite a woman, especially from a time when women were supposed to be seen and not heard.  As he walked, he could feel the adrenaline dissolving away, and he wondered if Emily would still be awake when he got back to the hotel.

At about the same time, Emily got out of a taxi at their hotel.  She’d taken the first taxi to the St Regis Brasserie, gone to the bar and ordered a large whisky.  And even though she wasn’t dressed for it (there were traces of blood and vomit on her jeans and jacket) the downside of the Pretty Girl Rule is pretty girls don’t sit alone for very long.  The first taste hadn’t even begun to warm her when there was a lurking movement that brought her mind out of the middle distance.  She focused and looked.  He was too boyish to be handsome and a couple of years too old to still be boyish.  (But he obviously didn’t know that.  He thought it was charming.)

“Hi, there! You look a little sad.  Would you like some company to cheer you up?”  The accent was foreign-born English Public school.

“Actually, I’m waiting for someone.”  Emily could see him weighing the possibilities.

“Well, he’s not here.  I could buy you a drink and we could wait together?”

Emily’s face didn’t give away her long-suffering sigh or the chain of thought from annoyed to benevolent, or her unconscious change of accent.

“How about if you just give me the money and we’ll call it even?”

The look was confused, and Emily laughed. “Wrong woman, wrong time, sport.” Emily said and fluttered her fingers.  The dismissal was kindly but final.  The man gallantly tipped his head and left, and Emily was left alone to linger over the rest of her drink.  When she finished and the bill came, she picked it up, stepped over to the boyish Casanova who was sitting with his friends at the bar.  She put it on the counter and pushed it in front of him.

“Thanks for the drink,” she said, smiled, and walked away.  This was a new experience for Agosto Marino, Assistant Italian Consul, but his friends would never tire of reminding him of it.

Outside, she asked the doorman to find her a taxi, and when it came, she got in and slumped into the seat.  She was tired but still excited and hoped Dreyfus was already at the hotel.  She wanted to hear what happened.  She wanted an end to the story.  And she wanted Dreyfus back where she could see him.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t there when she got to reception to pick up the key card.  She turned around, disappointed, seriously worried that Dreyfus was on his way to the Bulgarian border, and she didn’t see the man get up off the lobby sofa and approach her.

“You are alone tonight?”

Emily’s head dipped and her shoulders slumped in resignation.  She inhaled, raised her head, exhaled and looked at the man. “I am in no mood for this bullshit.”

But another man stepped forward.  He moved his jacket back to show Emily the black grip handle of his gun.

“Where is your husband?” The first man asked.

Emily’s mind clicked off the possibilities – but there really weren’t any.  All she could do was keep these men off-balance, stay in a public place and hope to hell Dreyfus could get to Bulgaria and back before the bar closed.

“I’m going to the bar to wait for him.  Perhaps you’d like to join me?”  Emily turned and took a step towards reception.

“Excuse me: when my husband comes in, can you tell him I’m waiting for him in The 47 with his friends?  Thank you so much.”  Emily turned back without looking at either man, and walked directly to a table in the middle of the bar by the water.

Dreyfus’ taxi was twenty minutes behind Emily’s, and he stopped at reception to get a key card in case she was already asleep.

“Your wife got a card earlier, sir, and told me to tell you she would be in The 47, having a drink with your friends.”

“My friends?”

“Yes, sir.  They were waiting here when she came in this evening.”

Dreyfus looked across into the bar.  Emily was at a table by the water.  She was on his left.  There was one man sitting across from her and one facing Dreyfus, with his back to the glass barrier that separated the bar from the Bosporus.  They weren’t local toughs: more likely middle management.  Dreyfus picked his target.  He took a breath and step-marched through the bar, hitting the wooden floor hard with his boot heels and scraping chairs out of his way.  Conversations stopped, and people turned to look.  By the time Dreyfus got to the table, both men had recognized the threat and were already half out of their chairs.  Dreyfus went behind Emily, and his last three steps were a running crouch.  He grabbed the man by the belt with his right hand, pulled up and at the same time drove his left shoulder into his chest, pushing him backwards.  Caught off guard and off balance, the man fell sideways against the top of the barrier, and his momentum and upper body weight flipped his feet into the air.  Dreyfus let go of his belt, pushed hard, and suddenly the man was head first over the plexiglass and headed for the water.  There was a splash.

Dreyfus half-turned, put his right hand inside his jacket and faced the man who was now standing across from Emily.

“Alright, you better start explaining — or swimming lessons are going to be the least of your worries!”

There was a scream or two and some shouting, then general confusion as the people in the bar reacted and a couple of them ran over to help.  Dreyfus didn’t take his eyes off the man in front of him, who was angry, but wary.  This wasn’t what he expected.

“We had some property stolen tonight.  My boss wants to talk to you.”

Dreyfus shook his head.  “Nothing to do with me.  Call the police.”

“My boss says …”

“I know who your boss is, and if he has anything to say to me, he should say it himself.  But he better hurry — we’re going home tomorrow.”

“Oh, no you don’t, Sinclair,”  Emily interrupted. “We’re not going anywhere.  You promised me Ephesus.  You promised me a proper holiday.  ‘I’ll take you to the ruins and roger you rigid.’  That’s what you said.”

“I never said that,” Dreyfus took a quick look down.

“Words to that effect.” Emily lifted her index finger, “Don’t try and weasel out of this.  I’ve spent four days watching Turkish television and getting fat on room service.  You owe me.  Now, quit playing silly buggers with your friends, and let’s go have a proper holiday.”

Dreyfus exhaled.  He looked back at the man in front of him who was still wary but now just confused.  He hadn’t expected this either.  Behind him, Dreyfus could see a couple of people had pulled the wet man out of the water.

“Alright, you tell your boss whatever problems he has, I had nothing to do with it.   But …” Dreyfus pointed, “As a courtesy, I’ll call him in the morning.  Now, this is over.  Collect your boyfriend and clear off.”

The man looked as if he was going to say something, thought about it and turned around to help the other man.  It took several minutes for them to leave and the bar to settle back to normal — although a lot of people simply paid their bill and left.  When they were gone, Dreyfus sat down. 

 “Were you really going to shoot that fellow?”

“No, I gave my gun to Sylvia Harrow.”

“Let’s have a drink, and you can tell me all about it,”  Emily said, reaching up to signal the waiter.

“You know, we drink too much?”

The next day, Emily and Dreyfus took a flight to Izmir and rented a car (Emily drove.) They went to Sirince and for three (or was it four?) days, they sat in the sun, ate, sang, laughed and drank wine with the locals — and, more importantly, spent more than one night in the ruins, under the stars.

This is the entire tale for those who prefer to binge.