Authors: Lavina Giamusso
The Sadir Affair
The Puppets of Washington Series Book 1
Blue Shelf Bookstore
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Washington, D.C. –
The Sadir Affair
© 2015 BlueShelfBookstore
All rights reserved
The localities, including Sabodala, landmarks and government organizations mentioned or described in this book do exist. The characters and events are fictional. Their resemblance to actual events or people, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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I would take flight in the morning air,
With my memories of better days,
With sighs of hopes in every breath,
Clearing the ground of desperation,
I would soar above the grey skies of sadness
Into the arms of the love, I once embraced then lost.
Her once vibrant, blonde curls lay flaccid around her head like a scarf of despair. Her once lovely face was now the portrait of the all-consuming pain she had endured for the past several months. Looking at the North Shore Mountains from the terrace of her apartment, Talya Kartz was lost in thought, almost absent. She was revisiting the places of her youth, the places where she had found solace amid the tiresome memories of days filled with anger and regret. She spared some thoughts for the man responsible for her misery, a man she had loved, a man who had become an assassin. He could have killed her, but he didn’t. Why, had been the question that had superseded every other since the shooting. She couldn’t get him out of her mind. She loathed the sight of him now. Yet, she wanted to see him again. She wanted to unreel her vengeful torment upon him. The rage she felt was oddly intertwined with the memory of the times they spent together—the beaches, the sunshine, the warmth of the day...
The winter had dragged on forever and she was happy to be outside without a coat or a blanket wrapped around her legs. Confined to a wheelchair, her main pleasure appeared centred on being alone outside. Unable to get out of bed at night, she would roll herself onto the carpet in the early hours of the morning to drag her body to the terrace door. The nurse would find her on the floor, staring at the ocean or asleep, her head leaning against the windowpane.
Her apartment had become her cage. She had concentrated mainly on learning to move about without the use of her legs as much as was allowed or possible. Ultimately, she had given up on the idea and got used to her wheelchair, although she still preferred sitting on the ground when she was alone. It was as if the floor or the barren ground gave her a sense of vitality, absorbing her pain and restoring her will to live.
“I’m home! What’s for dinner?” Aziz erupted jokingly, as he came through the door late that evening. Hearing no response, he rushed to the terrace. There, Talya was again; sitting on the ground, her back against the stone wall, watching the ocean. “What are you doing here? I thought you had gone out. Come on, let’s get you inside. It’s getting cold.”
Talya looked up at him but didn’t reply.
“Come on, Milady, I’ve got your favourite pizza for dinner…”
Returning her gaze to the ocean, “Is swimming good for me?” Talya asked.
“I’d say so. It’s a muscle stimulant, but you know that. They’ve put you in the pool at the hospital many times.”
“Yeah, but that’s not the same as really swimming, is it?”
“No, it isn’t. I’m sure by the summer; you’ll be able to go swimming.”
“Can we go now?”
“Now? I don’t think so. You need to get a little stronger before you venture in open waters, matey. Remember your legs won’t help you anymore.”
“I know, I know, but I thought we could go to Second Beach in the Kiddies Pool. I just want the feel of the water around my body. Can you understand what I’m saying, Aziz?”
Talya extended her left arm, grabbed the cushion of the wheelchair, lugged herself to where she could hold onto the armrest, and heaved her body into the seat. Beads of sweat pearled on her forehead while Aziz turned her hips into the chair.
“I need to be somewhere where having legs doesn’t matter. Somewhere I could move without having to manoeuvre a stupid wheelchair and somewhere no one needs to help me lie down, get up, or roll around.”
“Okay, let’s plan something for next weekend, okay?” Aziz suggested.
One of her rare smiles appeared on her face. Aziz could have lifted her to the sky for one of those smiles. He waited every hour of every day now to see a smidgen of pleasure light up her face.
“What kind of pizza did you get?” Talya asked, wheeling herself to the kitchen.
“Mushroom and cheese, and I bought a tin of anchovies.”
Talya looked up at him in surprise. She loved anchovies but he hated them.
“I know, I know, I don’t like them, but I thought I could put some on half of the pizza and I’ll eat the other half…”
“You didn’t have to do that! I love pizza anyway.” She shrugged and turned her chair around. “Whatever...”
The smile had disappeared. The joy or the promise of better times had dissipated once again. Aziz shook his head and watched her roll her chair back in the direction of the terrace.
Of course, Talya was an invalid, but it did not mean she was a vegetable either. Aziz was reaching a point where he did not know what to do to please her anymore. Yet nothing displeased her; the neutrality, the idleness, the irresponsiveness, the inertia were the most unnerving to him.
Strictly speaking, Talya was not Dr. Aziz Hendrix’s patient. She had been his lover, friend and companion for some three years. He had seen her reduced to a mangled and frail invalid, literally shrivelling in size, while her mind focused only on mastering the art of indifference.
Talya used to be a fighter. She used to argue and debate her points of view. She used to battle her way through life, but this battle she was not fighting it. The surgeons, physiotherapists, nurses, and medication were fighting it for her. If her treating psychologist had asked him if Talya was suicidal, Aziz would have said no. To him, she had no desire to kill herself, but would she eat or drink if no one was there to feed her? He didn’t think so. Now that she was able to go out, drive her ‘racing wheels’—the nickname she had given to her motorized chair—to the shops and stores, or even take a bus, Aziz had yet to see her pass through the front door of her apartment of her own accord. It was as if she had decided to shut the world out.
After dinner, Aziz went home as usual, once he had put Talya to bed. The nurse would be there in the morning to take care of her for a few hours and leave her after lunch. He would come back at night. That routine had been going on for months, and Aziz was getting tired of it. As much as he loved Talya, he didn’t think he could continue looking after her now that she was well on her way to becoming independent if she wanted to be.
Captain Khalid Sahab, as friends and acquaintances knew him, was an inveterate pilot. He had lived at the Hotel de Crillon on the Place de la Concorde since his father died many years ago. Although not flaunting his princely background at anyone’s face, Khalid was an Arab fellow who enjoyed the Parisian life and the luxury that came with his blue blood ancestry. Not a pretentious man by any means, Khalid had an acute sense of his fellow human beings, an odd and instant insight into their characters. He was intelligent, well educated—in England—and he displayed a deep-seated wisdom. Tall and handsome by many women’s description, he was not flirtatious or even interested in befriending the opposite sex. Originally raised as a Touareg, his beliefs led him to maintain his distances from women. His greying hair at the temples revealed his age and when people saw him in the company of his daughter, Aisha, they somehow gathered that he was serious about his family ties and beyond the age of chasing the alluring Parisian skirts.
He had been thrown in the midst of an international, political affair some two years ago now, which had almost ruined him financially and had left him emotionally scarred. He had met Talya at a time she was herself in deep trouble. Together they evaded their enemies and thwarted or even foiled the operations of a drug lord in France while uncovering an arms’ trafficking ring spanning some three continents.
He deplored Talya’s injuries. He knew that, ultimately, she had blamed him for what happened. She had been shot, and his absence at the time made it all the worst for him and for her. He had left her to her own device in Miami and he knew the move had ignited a pursuit by a Mossad agent that ended up in disaster.
He had not heard from Talya in many months. He phoned James Flaubert, her boss and founder of Carmine Resources on many occasions, only to learn of her progressive recovery but also of her cloistering. James had told him she wanted to see no one and lived a secluded life now.
Khalid was again reminiscing of the happy times he spent with Talya when the phone on his desk rang and startled him back to the present.
“Yes, Marie, what is it?” Khalid answered tersely.
“A Dr. Hendrix is on the line for you, Capitaine. Shall I put him through?” the woman replied quietly. Marie was the ‘gérante’ of the hotel. She had seen Khalid through the worst and the best moments of his life. More than a manager, Marie was like a mother to Khalid.
“Yes, Marie, please.”
“Khalid?” Aziz asked as soon as he heard the phone being picked up.
“Yes, Aziz. How can I help you?”
“No, not me, Khalid—you’ll never be able to help me—it’s Talya who needs your help.”
Paying no heed to Aziz’s comments, “How is she?” Khalid asked.
“Physically, as well as can be expected, but psychologically, she is irresponsive.”
“What do you mean, irresponsive?”
“Do you know what apathy means?”
“I guess you’ve lost your perspicacity while ignoring your friends…”
Khalid was reaching the point of annoyance very quickly. Aziz had put him on the defensive. “All right, and what do you want me to do about it? She wouldn’t even pick-up the phone when I tried calling her. She does not want to see me—you know that!”
“She might not pick-up the phone, but if she knows you’re at her doorsteps, she’ll see you—I’m sure of it.”
“What makes you think so?”
“Khalid, don’t play games with me. I know you’re still in love with her and if anyone can get her out of that bubble of hers, it’s you.”
“Listen to me, Aziz. Let’s say I get her out of her torpor and she finally starts living a normal life again, what would happen if she decides to come back to Paris with me? Because that’s a possibility. Have you thought of it?”
“I would prefer seeing her going to Paris with you for ever—if that’s what she wants—than seeing her the way she is now.”
“All right. Let me make some arrangements and I’ll contact you with an arrival date.”
“Thank you, Khalid.”
“I hope that was as sincere as your plea on her behalf was,” Khalid said.
“Yes, it was. Yet, I would like to hear the story from your lips one day.”
“By all means, Aziz, you should.”
When Khalid hung up, he was thrilled. Not solely because he was going to see Talya again but because he was finally going to be able to open the book that had been closed too soon in his opinion. Mossad was an enemy not to be underestimated and if someone did not turn the page in this book quickly, the dormant monster would awake soon with dire consequences for everyone involved.