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.
“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.