Lambros thought he might be in love or at least falling in it. He could admit it to himself now, though he hadn’t gotten around to telling Nancy yet. The last few months had seen a blossoming of first, their friendship and finally, the feelings of romance. He thought she felt it too. Why else would a beautiful girl spend so much time with him, his friends, and his family? He certainly hoped she felt it. He would find out tonight. These were his thoughts as he pulled up in front of the Professor’s house. He got out and went to the door. When she answered the doorbell, he was speechless for a moment. She was dressed in a black miniskirt which showed off her tanned athletic legs. He knew how just how strong those legs were because of the many hours they’d spent together on the ice as he taught her hockey. She wore a blue top and a pair of large round earrings. She was dazzling and he knew in an instant that he wanted her and he wanted her tonight.
“Hi Leonidas!” she said, flashing him her brilliant smile. “I’m almost ready, come in and say hello to uncle Michael.”
She led him into the living room where Michael Jiang was watching the Discovery Channel.
“Hello Leonidas! How is your mother and the rest of the family?” Nancy excused herself to finish getting ready for their date.
“Mom is okay today though every day is different. That’s one of the most difficult and terrible things about this type of cancer, you never know what kind of day you will have when you wake up, you can only do your best to make it a good one and most days that’s a struggle.”
“Yes, Nancy has been keeping me informed. She really admires your mother’s spirit.”
“We all do, and for the record, Nancy has been great. My mom thinks of her as the daughter she never had. They’ve grown close. I don’t know how the family would have gotten along during the last few months without her. The mood around the house would have been completely different.”
Michael shrugged. “She is a remarkable young woman; I feel lucky to be able to call her my niece.”
The two men sat in a companionable silence for a few minutes and watched the program about the forming of the solar system. They were both avid science fans and the commentary from Stephen Hawkins added a personal dimension to it for Michael. He had met the great man.
“Have you heard anything from anyone concerning the formula?” Lambros hated referring to it us the formula, it was more in the nature of work, or a process but formula seemed to be the easiest one-word description that people could instantly grasp.
“Not a thing Michael, but the account is doing as well as predicted. Maybe some of those organizations are watching it, or maybe our announcement is caught somewhere in the nightmarish neither lands of huge bureaucracies.”
Lambros wasn’t satisfied with that answer but with his mother’s illness and the effect it had on his life and the lives of everyone around him his economic discovery could take a back seat for now.
Nancy must do something quickly, Michael thought to himself. Her superiors had been patient so far, secure in the knowledge that she was sticking to Lambros like glue and that between her and Michael China had the best shot at walking away with this huge prize but that could change any day. Somewhere others were aware of Lambros discovery and when they became convinced it was real things could get nasty quickly. They couldn’t rush him; Michael was indeed convinced that Nancy was following the best course. There was no way to get the process except Lambros came to trust them completely. The best way to accomplish that was to become family. That process was well along the way, all that had to happen now was for the boy to fall in love with her, which apparently, he was doing.
“Ready Leonidas?” Nancy asked as she floated into the room. Both men stood in appreciation and Lambros was speechless for a moment as he stood dazed by the aura of her beauty.
“How do I look?” she asked, twirling and smiling.
“Like a Greek goddess.” Lambros blurted out before quickly amending his statement. “No, I take that back. Like a Chinese goddess sent here to dazzle this poor Greek peasant.”
She laughed delightedly. “You’re nobody’s peasant Leonidas. A Greek hero maybe, That I would believe, and you don’t look too bad yourself tonight either.”
He bowed in modest acknowledgement of her compliment and took her arm. “Shall we go milady?” They strolled to the front door, Michael trailing behind.
She looks as happy as he does. He thought to himself. That would be an elegant solution to all their problems if these two were to fall in love.
“Good night Uncle Michael”, she said affectionately as she kissed him on the cheek, then added playfully, “Don’t wait up.”
They all laughed and then the two lovebirds got into Lambros car and drove away.
“Well, my Greek hero, where are you taking me or is it a secret?” Nancy sat relaxed and completely at ease as Leon maneuvered through the Saturday night traffic. She was a good driver; she had been trained to be and she recognized that Leon’s skill was exceptional for someone without special training. He talked often of going to flight school and probably would have already enrolled had his mother not been ill.
“I was thinking that I’ve already shown you a lot of what Toronto has to offer but it’s always been with friends or family or in a group. I want to do something with just you and me, something romantic. How does dinner and dancing sound?”
Nancy experienced a warm tingling inside and her heart fluttered for a second. He had put it out there, laid it on the table so to speak. Romantic.
“That sounds wonderful.” She purred and slid farther down into the seat.
“Good, we’re headed for the CN Tower. You asked about it right after you got here but we haven’t had a chance to check it out. It’s a must see and I’m sure you’ll like it.”
“Isn’t it the tallest tower in the world?”
“I think so but you never know what with how fast they build new ones all the time in Asia. It was the tallest when it was completed in 1976, that’s for sure. I’ve been to the top a couple of times in the daytime and looked around but never at night, never to the restaurant…and never on a date.”
“A date.” She said the word as if it were a new English idiom, one with which she wasn’t familiar. “In all our outings, you’ve never used that term.”
“I know. I don’t use it lightly and I’ve been careful to think of you as a friend, the professor’s niece, my mother’s confidante, someone I should be very respectful to. But lately I’ve been thinking that I want us to be more than that and I’m afraid that if I wait too long you’ll start to think of me as a brother and not someone you might possibly fall in love with.”
He drove with his left hand, his right laying between them near the stick shift; gently she picked up his right hand holding it firmly in both of hers. “There was never any chance of that.”
“Are you ready for a thrill? They were in one of six glass faced elevators that went up to the observation deck. Leon stood behind her, his arms gently encircling her. They were oblivious to the other passengers.
“Mmm, this is your idea of a thrill? I’ll have to do something about that.” She teased.
“Hey, this thing goes fifteen miles an hour straight up.”
Her buttocks were pressed against his groin and she realized that the elevator wasn’t the only thing that was straight up. She smiled secure in the knowledge that he wanted her. They stepped out onto the solid glass floor and sauntered around taking in the various views. The Toronto Island Airport, the Sky dome, The Gardiner Expressway; Nancy listened attentively as Leon shared his knowledge of tower facts as history. He was a born lecturer and loved showing off his knowledge. They took their time, taking in the mood of the moment. They both knew tonight would mark a turning point in their relationship and both realized they were ready for it.
I’ve got to tell him, was the nagging thought that refused to let Nancy enjoy the night in its complete fullness. I’ve got to tell him but what do I say? Leon I’m a spy and you are my assignment but don’t worry, I’ve fallen in love with you so everything will be alright now.
It sounded insane, even to her, and she knew it to be true. As they strolled around the observation deck she stole quick furtive glances at his face. He was so obviously in love at last, so obviously adored and trusted her. As for her there was none of the sense of triumph she had anticipated when she had imagined this moment, instead she felt shame and dread.
It wasn’t all an act. He needed to believe that. She had to think of a way to convince him… or she would surely lose him in that critical moment when she told him the truth.
Once they were in the restaurant the waitress escorted them to their table. Leon had paid extravagantly and pulled some strings to get a table with a prime view. He explained that the restaurant rotated and that it took seventy-two minutes to make a complete rotation.
A thousand feet below them Toronto lay spread out in all its night time glory. It was a view the gods might have had if Olympus were in Canada today. Leon ordered for them. She was becoming addicted to Western food and he knew exactly what she liked. He failed to notice she was distracted. He was in love. Her smile was enough, every gesture, even a sneeze, was a sign.
“You’ve been here in Canada a few months Nancy and I know you like it. Have you ever thought about making it your home”?
“I don’t mean it like that.” She said reaching across the table and taking his hand. “I like it here, I love it here, but I have family and commitments in China. I would need a lot of time and a very good reason before I could settle everything there and make this my home.”
“I can understand that. I can’t imagine leaving here and starting life in another country either. It would be daunting to say the least but if the right person came along…”
“You know me Leon. You know me very well, but you don’t know much about me. Have you really thought about that?”
“No, I haven’t. But I want to learn more about you. I’m willing to listen to anything you need to tell me Nancy. I’m willing to because I care. For months now you’ve been listening to me, helping me and my family get through rough times. That’s not fair, maybe you need me to listen to you. If so, then I’m here.”
She nodded. “There’s something I need to tell you, something important, something so important it could change everything.”
“It can’t change how I feel. I know that.”
“Maybe you should wait; see what it is before you say that.”
“I don’t have to wait. I know myself. I know my heart; my feelings won’t change.”
She smiled. “I hope you’re right. We’ll see, but let’s not spoil tonight. Let’s talk about serious things another time OK?”
“It’s a deal.”
At ten the restaurant went into dance mode. The music was dance/retro with some romantic slow songs thrown in to give lovers a chance to be romantic and dancers a chance to catch their breath and take a break. Nancy and Leonidas threw themselves into the music.
They were young and both natural athletes who didn’t tire easily. Lambros was graceful in his own way but Nancy stole the show. She moved in synch with him but in her own style, a mixture of Western and Eastern that caught people’s eye. At one point the dancers near them moved away to give them room and simply watch.
Lambros, was out of practice, but his mother had taught him a lot of the dances of her generation and he found himself leading Nancy through a series of twists and spins. She followed eagerly and caught on fast.
She had seen these moves in old American movies, everything from the original Footloose to Dirty Dancing and Grease. She had secretly practiced many of them alone in her bedroom never dreaming she’d ever have the chance to do them on a real dance floor.
Nancy realized that she was one of millions of girls all over the world, girls from Asia, Africa, and South America, who had watched movies about the lives of American young people and thought that maybe they were a little crazy while dreaming they would get a chance to find out what real carefree abandonment felt like one day.
Few of those girls would ever get the chance to see and feel what life was like here in the West but she was here in Canada, thousands upon thousands of miles away from the traditions and obligations of China and she felt the chaos, felt it magnified a hundred times in the crucible of romance.
I want this man and I want this life. She would remember this moment and that thought in the trying times ahead. It would sustain her through a lot.
As for Lambros he thought maybe he knew a little of what James Cameron and the character Jack, from Titanic felt like when they screamed “I’m King of the world!” at the top of their lungs. He realized that in a room full of beautiful people he was dancing with the most desirable girl present, the envy of every man. It was a rare and heady feeling for him and he reveled in it.
I like this girl and nothing she says will change that he thought. The next twenty-four hours would test that sentiment to its limits.
Michael Jiang lounged in his boxers, sitting in the most comfortable chair in his study. It was Saturday night, one fifteen Sunday morning now. Nancy and Leonidas had left the house around eight and the Professor had become a little bored…and a little horny. He decided to indulge his internet porn addiction. He was fifty-six years old and had never been what you could call socially adept.
He blended seamlessly into the academic fabric of the University of Toronto, where he was respected and not much was expected of him but to teach and publish. He hadn’t been on a real date since he was forty.
Cyber-sex was made for men like Michael. He went to one of his favorite sites, TS Domination. He didn’t know why the sight of a beautiful woman with a large penis, sexually dominating a hapless man turned him on, it just did. He refused to examine the matter closely, it was more fun to simply sit back and enjoy the show.
He was watching a video of La Keisha, a beautiful, well-hung, African-American, and a personal favorite when the doorbell rang.
He paused the video, slipped on his khaki’s and a shirt and went to the door. It wasn’t like Nancy to forget her key but he couldn’t think of anyone else who might need to see him in the middle of the night.
He opened the door and was only mildly alarmed to see five men standing there. They were obviously of Middle Eastern descent but they were dressed in conservatively cut western business suits. A tall thin man with a full neatly trimmed beard addressed him.
“Professor Michael Jiang?”
“Yes, that’s me. What do you want?”
“We are here attending the conference on Moslem-Christian Harmony and Cooperation being held in downtown Toronto. Maybe you are aware of it?
Michael vaguely remembered reading something about it but was confused.
“What’s that got to do with me? I’m a Buddhist.”
“Actually this has nothing to do with that.” A large man behind the bearded one said producing a pistol and forcing his way inside. “This has to do with your formula. We need it, and we need it now.”
“Michael knew he was in serious trouble, maybe even deadly serious trouble, but oddly enough his first thought was embarrassment that these men would see what he had paused on his computer.
It was a memorable and enjoyable evening. One of those nights where nothing could go wrong because you felt so good and the universe was so obviously on your side.
After that first wonderful set of dancing they had gone back to their table and had a few drinks to unwind. Lambros ordered the house specialty, a tall aqua blue concoction with a lemony, tangy, flavor to it. The sweet drink went down easy and before they knew it they were both a little tipsy.
Several people came over to their table and complimented them on their dancing. Some of them had seen them around campus and there was at least the possibility that they had made several new friends.
Eventually they went back to the dance floor and though they still moved well the magic of that first dance was gone but they found something just has good when the DJ played Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion and they danced their first romantic slow dance.
The ride on the glass faced elevators coming back down was a thrill this time due to the drinks. Nancy laughed and clung to Leon as the elevator whooshed straight down taking her stomach with it.
It was a ten-minute walk to where they were parked. They were strolling and holding hands as if they had been doing it a lifetime already. It was the most natural thing in the world. I never want this night to end, Nancy thought in a wistful moment of melancholia. I certainly don’t want it to end now at least. Give me the rest of this night Leon…and make it as magical as the rest has been.
When he stated quietly and simply that he had reserved a room at the Hyatt and that he’d like her to go back there with him it startled her. It was as if he’d read her mind. She turned and answered him with a kiss, her body eager and excited at this foretaste of what was promised to come. I should tell him before we make love she promised herself. I must.
Michael Jiang was dying but it wasn’t happening nearly fast enough to suit him right now. The thin bearded man who spoke the best English, started the questioning in a civilized enough manner but when that didn’t produce results he turned things over to the giant Yusuf, and things had gotten ugly quickly from there.
The giant obviously knew a lot about inflicting pain with blows to the body and face without having his victim die on him or even lose consciousness. He was also good with a knife. Michael was bleeding from dozens of expertly placed cuts but none of them deep enough or in an area vital enough to give him the release of death. Occasionally the giant took a break while the Khalid continued his efforts at “an intellectual discussion between two reasoning men.”.
Michael had been ready to reason after the first blow. The problem was they didn’t believe him.
“Please” he sobbed as tears ran down his now grotesquely bloated and distorted face. He wasn’t even recognizably Chinese anymore. It was a face out of an old horror movie with a limited budget for make-up.
“I told you. It isn’t my discovery. One of my graduate students discovered it and nobody knows how to do it or even what the process involves except him. I gave you his name. I gave you his address. What else can I do?”
It was the hundredth time he had made this plea. Khalid was starting to be convinced. The poor man was so obviously unsuited for something like this. This wasn’t an American soldier or spy who had known that a day like this would come. He was exactly what he appeared to be; an ineffectual academic in over his head.
Khalid sipped his tea and considered. They were in the professor’s study. They had the computer, notes, and everything connected to the formula though the professor had admitted that none of it would help them.
A Canadian grad student with the unlikely name of Leonidas Lambros carried most of what the secret entailed around in his head. Any other useful equipment or notes was to be found at his home in a room everyone apparently referred to as the Bat cave.
Khalid switched to Arabic to discuss the situation with Yusuf.
“I believe he’s telling the truth.”
“I believed him an hour ago,…but I wanted to be sure.”
Khalid believed that but he knew it wasn’t the only reason the big man had continued the beating. He had enjoyed it. Khalid had watched the look on Yusuf’s face as the Chinaman screamed, begged, pleaded, and writhed in pain. He had enjoyed it, had taken some form of sexual satisfaction from it.
This sadomasochistic tendency had probably only been exacerbated by what they had found on the poor man’s computer when they entered the study. All of them had been properly shocked, amazed, and disgusted but a skein of forbidden, self-righteous excitement ran through their outrage. Khalid shook his head sadly. There seemed to be no end to the depravities available in the West and if the faithful weren’t extremely careful it would infect and corrupt all of Islam.
“The next step would be to go straight to the home of this Lambros.” He looked at his watch. It was five AM Sunday morning. If they went straight to the address, they should be able to catch this Christian before he went to Church.
“We have started our mission and we are close, very close to success. We should push on and get the information from Lambros. He is probably no stronger than this one.” He nodded indicating Jiang. “And speaking of this one, what shall we do with him?”
Without another word, Yusuf walked up behind the exhausted, dazed, and visibly trembling Michael Jiang grabbed him by the hair and pulling his head back, cut his throat.
“Kiss my nipples a little more honey before you go down there please.” Nancy urgently demanded. It was their third round of love making. Neither had what could be called a lot of experience in this day and age but both had some, and they naturally considerate of each other, eager to please and to learn. Lambros obeyed, concentrating on her firm, pert breasts before moving on down to where he wanted his mouth to be. She responded to his every touch, her body writhing in pleasure while she moaned and sighed in an exciting combination of satisfaction at what he was doing and anticipation of what she was coming next.
When he moved down between her legs she made a sound he could only describe as a yelp of pleasure and it drove him to another level of need. He had intended this third time at love making to be slow and unhurried but urgent need gripped him again. So much for good intentions he thought as he entered her. She was wet, warm, and ready, and they began rocking and moving in an ever more frantic rhythm guaranteed to bring them to climax. She came loudly and her body spasmed in an ark so powerful that it pushed him to climax.
He lay there trembling, exhausted, and spent for a moment then gently rolled off her and stared up at the ceiling. He left arm moved out in invitation and she moved to his side, resting her head in the space where the arm met the shoulder.
This is the perfect time to tell him. Nancy thought, then amended it. No that would have been when we first arrived here, before we gave ourselves so completely to each other. The truth of who and what she was had been the only thing marring what had otherwise been a perfect and powerful experience.
When they first arrived at the hotel she tried to tell him, had tried to take up the thread of that conversation earlier at the restaurant but he had been insistent that now was not the time. It could wait he insisted, it wouldn’t make any difference to him anyway so why spoil this night? She had reluctantly gone along with him, not wanting her secret to affect this night either and afraid that it would make a difference, a difference she couldn’t bear to think about.
She didn’t like to think of herself as a coward and she had never found herself afraid and unwilling to do hard but necessary things but then again she had never been in love before. Everything before this paled in comparison, every man before the one who lay beside her now seemed like something trivial and inconsequential. He had already changed her life and the potential for even greater changes was huge, a little frightening even.
I need to talk to grandfather. I need to talk to him as my grandfather first and then as my spymaster. The realization lifted some of the weight from her mind. He loved her and he would help her find the correct way out of this. She could deliver Lambros, of that she had no doubt, but did she want to? He was unyielding in his desire to have his secret be used for the greater good. If China got it only to cause havoc and wreak Western economies he would never forgive her for persuading him to give it to her.
“A penny for your thoughts.”
She laughed. “Trust me Mr. Economic Genius; they’re worth a lot more than that, a whole lot more.”
They got up and took a shower together which, not so surprisingly, led to another round of sex. By then they were both famished and they laughed, talked and basked in the pleasure of just being together while they consumed an enormous breakfast. Nancy was a disciplined eater and though she was certainly hungrier than usual, she limited herself to only slightly more than her usual caloric intake.
Lambros exhibited no such restraint. She watched in fascination as he consumed pancakes, a ham, cheese and mushroom omelet, hash browns, and three cups of coffee. At last he sat back and declared himself ready to tackle the day.
“I feel I should seriously reconsider entering a relationship with you if it involves cooking for you.” Nancy announced deadpan. “It looks like it could be a full-time job.”
“True, but think of the erotic benefits, of which you only got an introductory sample last night.”
“There is that. It might make it worthwhile, though from the looks of things I would spend all my time between the kitchen and the bedroom.”
“They are the nicest rooms in any house.”
“Then why do you spend so much time in the bat cave?”
“Speaking of the bat cave, I need to get home. I need to tweak the investments for that account we set up. It’s still growing though I’ve been neglecting it. If I can increase the profit and raise it to truly impressive numbers, then maybe some of those people we phoned before will take note and get back to us.”
“Ah yes, the account.” She said, suddenly brought back to her dilemma. “Well drop me off and you can go play in the bat cave all day. I want to call some relatives in China today. I have some serious issues to discuss with them after last night.”
He kissed her. “How about dinner tonight at my house? Mom and dad will be pleased at the new developments in our relationship. They should be the first to know I think.”
“Sounds good; In a way, everything changes today.”