Saturday, August 30, 2014

TURKISH DELIGHT by Rosemary Laurey

TURKISH DELIGHT by Rosemary Laurey

Special Investigations Agency

For Special Investigations Agency Operatives Destiny Tremayne, Jenna MacDonald and Nur Aydan, Christmas isn’t all about celebrating.

Nur Aydan, a moroii—a living vampire—accepts a commission in the UK, investigating investment of terrorist funds. The supposedly routine job has Nur involved in a local protest over rights-of-way, rescuing demonstrators from attackers, using her moroii abilities to thwart terrorists…And falling in love.



She'd sworn she'd never do this again. So much for oaths and promises. Not only had she come to meet Paul, but she was seriously considering accepting another assignment. Or was she? Nur Aydan looked down at the narrow street below. A party of tourists, like a pack of sheep, with digital cameras instead of bells around their necks, paused as their guide indicated the building opposite: a former Ottoman merchant's house. The tourists hung on every word of the patter, soaking up a mass of historical inaccuracies about life in the harem, while a few meters overhead, stood a true relic of the past - a moroii- a living vampire, blood-linked to the gypsies who roamed the reaches of the empire in the days of the sultans. A moroii employed, to her mother's constant worry, as an secret agent by The Special Investigations Agency.

Heaven help her! She was thinking like Aunt Zenip, who endlessly lamented lost glories of the Empire and times long gone. Meanwhile...Nur turned back to Paul Morel, seated on the divan in the corner. "I'm not ready for another job, Paul. Give me some time."

"This isn't a real job, Nur. All it will take is a weekend. You'll be back by Monday. It's what out English friends would call a 'doodle'."

"I think you mean a 'doddle'."

"Ah! You agree."

"How can I agree, when I have no idea what you're talking about?"

"How about an all-expenses paid holiday?"

The man was a comedian as well as a spy master. "I've earned it after that last job. How about a week or two in Antakya?"

"A weekend in England."

"At this time of year? Forget it. I'll take Iskenderun if Antakya is all booked up, but..."

"Nur! Will you listen?"

She should have expected that. Walking back to the cheap divan against the wall, she sat down. This place got shabbier each time they met, but neither of them came for the decor. She folded her arms on her chest, leaned back against the pillows, and eyeballed Paul Morel. "I'm listening."

"Brussels got a communique from our Washington Bureau. About investment of suspected terrorist funds." Ha! Paul knew that would get her attention. Nur acknowledged with a nod and he went on. "They want someone to check on things.."

"There's no one in the UK?" There was a catch. She knew it.

"No one with your strength. It's you or a bulldozer."

"You know how to pay compliments! A bulldozer!"

"Nur, I saw you stop a forklift."

A tactical mistake on her part. "Alright, so I can stop moving machinery with my bare hands. What have these terrorists been buying up? Old factories?"

"A prehistoric stone circle."

Damn good thing she was sitting down. Anyone but Paul, she'd have thought was joking, but Paul didn't have a humorous bone in his body. "You can't just buy them! They're historical monuments, national treasures." Would be like buying up the Dolmabaçe Palace or the Topkapi. "Aren't they owned by the government?"

"Most of them."

"But one just happened to be up for sale, and was bought by a suspect group?"

He nodded. "Should I send out for tea?"

"Coffee, Paul and very sweet." She didn't miss the glint of satisfaction in his eyes, as he turned to the telephone. He'd hooked her and they both knew it.

"In the name of the Special Investigations Agency, thank you," Paul said as he put down the phone.

"Just a weekend job, eh? Good! I have a dinner engagement on Monday."

He gave a flicker of a smile. "Hollrigg is a megalithic stone circle on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. Until a year ago it belonged to a local family. One of only two privately owned megaliths in the UK. Recently the aging owner-she was well over eighty I believe-put it up for sale, hoping a local preservation group would raise the money. A business consortium bought it, preempting the proposed arrangement, and paying about five times the asking price."

"A lot of money for a bunch of old stones."

"Very old stones."

"So they need a tax write-off. They are amateur archeologists wanting to preserve the site for posterity. They need a novel site for employee training. Doesn't mean they are terrorists."

"The company who bought it, Rudicorp, is based in Yemen, and has definite ties to terrorist funding. They do, admittedly, have some legitimate business operations, and maybe, just maybe they bought it in the interests of preserving western culture," Paul paused, "but unlikely. and in the present climate, we investigate everything."

"What am I supposed to do? Pick up the stones up one by one and check for bombs underneath?"

"If you deem it necessary."

"Very funny, Paul. What am I really supposed to do?"

"Find out what the hell is going on. Lurk around the site, and use your superior hearing and sight to ascertain whatever you can."

"Why me? You've got other agents with special abilities."

"They are all occupied. We've been particularly busy the past year or so."

"So, you're scraping the bottom of the barrel and calling on me."

"Don't talk rot! You're one of our best. I know you need a break after the last job, but this is more investigation than action. You're going to look around, that's all." She bet!

At a knock on the door, Paul crossed the room. The teenager from the cafe downstairs entered, placed two small cups were on the table in front of Nur, and left with a generous tip. Paul handed her a cup. She caught the rich, heady aroma, sniffing appreciatively before tasting. Wonderful! Sweet, hot and thick, she might as well enjoy, she'd not get coffee like this in England.

Paul placed an envelope on the table. "Tickets, driving license, car rental reservation, credit cards, a little traveling money, and the passport you'll use."

He'd been that sure she'd agree, had he? Nur scowled and took another sip before setting her cup down and reaching for the envelope. "Yildiz Geçtan? School teacher? Give me a break, Paul!"

"It's a good cover. People expect teachers to poke around, ask questions and look at everything."

"And why am I wandering around the UK in December when I have a students to teach back here in Turkey?"

"You have a three month sabbatical, to travel in the UK and improve your English." She had to smile at that. Her English was better than Paul's. "You teach at the Dursan Academy in Istanbul. They will back up your story if needed."

How Paul did these things, she didn't want to know. She flicked open the ticket. Okay, teachers went tourist class, but... "Tomorrow morning!"

"An early flight. Stay tonight at the airport Radisson, in your traveling name. Your flight leaves at seven."

"What about minor details, like a tooth brush?"

He nodded towards the end of the divan. "There's a toothbrush in the bag, Nur, and your essentials. You'll have the usual supplies waiting for you at the hotel. If you need anything else, use the credit card in the envelope, and be sure to save all the receipts for accounting."

"I leave in the morning? Drat! I had an appointment for a manicure tomorrow morning."

"Reschedule for when you get back."

Paul really did have no sense of humor.

It started off, like the nice easy break Paul promised: a room service dinner at the Airport Radisson while Nur looked over Paul's notes before burning them in the bathroom wash basin and flushing the ashes. Not that they told her much. Paul seemed to think leaving her to find out for herself was the way to go. Which probably meant there was nothing going on and she was off on a routine mission-not that she'd ever had one of those, and half-doubted she'd recognize one if she tripped over it in broad daylight. But she gave up worrying, enjoyed the grilled shrimp and fish she'd ordered, and indulged her favorite desert: rosewater ice cream. She should go out and hunt, but lacked the energy. Tomorrow she'd find some willing Brit and feast.

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