The magic of the night started at 10:00 in Kyrenia, the dinner hour of the Mediterranean culture, and I had arrived at the restaurant at the height of the evening.
Tahir had been waiting for me, the look of longing on his face, hopeful in the opportunity to bed me at last--the possibility that I had held over his head for months while he was feeding his government's secrets to me.
Tahir was very nice to look at--slim but well muscled, hirsute in a way that I liked. Black curly hair. A handsome, swarthy face, with a very nice smile.
Everything should have been just fine. But I liked my men appreciably older than me, experienced, controlling, and slightly cruel. A touch of danger went with why I was in this business at all. Tahir was younger than I was, and he gave me the impression that I would have to be the aggressor. As badly as he obviously wanted me, I felt like he would want me to dominate--but not much. Tahir wanted romance. And that wasn't what aroused me. Still, it was probably what made Tahir so easy to run as an in-place asset. And he had earned his reward.
I knew I had to try to please him--not only so he could be passed on, but also because he had done well by me. I owed him. If I left him unsatisfied, I wasn't being fair to the agent who replaced me. Tahir would know we were leading him on, soaking him for as much useful information as we could before cutting him off--or if he had been valuable enough to us, before we extracted him and gave him a new life somewhere far less exotic and friendly than Turkish Cyprus.
As I walked up to the table, I was smiling suggestively at Tahir, signaling that tonight was the night. And all of that time I was telling myself that somehow I had to become aroused enough to satisfy him.
But then my smile froze and I became genuinely aroused as a figure passed between Tahir and me. It was the restaurant host, asking me if I wanted a table, hearing Tahir call out that I was with him, and then giving me a broad, knowing smile.
A smile that melted me.
He was Tahir twenty years from now. Dark, much more substantial than Tahir. The same handsome face and melting smile. But older, more in control. The same dark hair, but streaked with gray and longer than Tahir's, banded into a ponytail. Not fat but solid, heavily muscled. Substantial. This stood out in stark contrast with Tahir's youth, puppy-dog diffidence, and hesitancy. He was the older, more world-wise, form of Tahir, giving me a knowing look as he escorted me to the table. He was guiding me with a beefy palm to the small of my back. And with that he was branding me as his--if he wanted me. Somehow he knew the decision was his; that I would have no choice.
"This is my Uncle Fazil, Jack," Tahir said--almost unnecessarily, as we reached the table. "Can you sit with us, uncle?" Tahir asked.
Yes, yes, I was screaming in my brain.
"Perhaps a bit later, when the customers are settled," Fazil answered. A beautiful, smooth baritone voice, with a charming Turkish-British accent.
I sat across from Tahir, and we talked about not much of anything, he fidgeting and nervously waiting for me to become mellow on the wine and atmosphere and delicious food, and me waiting for his uncle to return.
Tahir was giving me that puppy-dog look, afraid to ask what he wanted to ask. I relieved his anxiety by reaching over and playing my fingers down his forearm, through his dark matting of hair. He shuddered in recognition of what that meant. He took the fingers of the hand I wasn't lifting the wine glass with in his hand and gently stroked my fingers. I leaned across the table and let him kiss me lightly on the lips.
As we were coming out of the kiss, Uncle Fazil was there, beside our table, and he sat down next to me and turned toward me and smiled. And I melted to him.
I had to think of something to say to him. I wanted to make whatever connection I could. It was lame, but it was a start.
"So, you work at this restaurant, do you, Fazil?"
Fazil just smiled an indulgent, knowing smile at me.
"Uncle Fazil owns the restaurant," Tahir said, his voice full of pride. "Uncle Fazil lives in Istanbul and just comes home occasionally. Uncle Fazil is an importer. See that big yacht right out there? That's Uncle Fazil's too."
Bells were going off in my brain, flipping through the cables I had to review daily in the vaulted station area of the embassy. Fazil. Fazil Fikret, the arms smuggler. I tried not to change expression. The illusive Fazil Fikret. He'd been a major intelligence target of ours for years, but so far no one had been able to come close to him. And regardless of this, at the moment I only could think how much more I wanted to go with him tonight than with Tahir.