Okay, summer vacation’s over. At least it is for my kids, and by default, for me. Finishing touches are going on with WITH GOD INTENT, and I hope I can get it out late September/early October. In the meantime, I just got back from a trip to Istanbul. Cities with so many nooks and crannies, each bursting with history, get the mind going. As I was touring Topkapi Palace for the second time in my life, I couldn’t help but see the historic legacy of this wonder and speculate as to whether any of my characters ever would have visited while it was the seat of government of the Ottoman Empire and the home of the Sultan and his family. Not Maeve and August; by the time they were romancing around the Emerald Isle, the sultans had already moved on to the much more European-styled Dolmabahce Palace. Jerry might have played around on the Istanbul streets, but the Sultan and his bunch weren’t really his cup of Turkish tea.
But Victoria Kent… Oh, yes, you bet your sweet bippy she paid a few visits.
The next book on my writing docket is the sequel to 12.21.12: The Vessel. As book two will open up a few years after the events of book one, you might be curious about what’s going on in the between. Well, Victoria and Dmitri have been having something of a second honeymoon. After all, having been mostly separated for the last few thousand years, they have a lot to catch up on.
Few things pissed him off more than when her eyes misted with memories. Memories of the years they’d been apart.
He wasn’t stupid. He knew the kind of woman Victoria was. Private with her emotions, yes, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have them. Despite how she labored to conceal, she was also of a sentimental bent as well. Not for the first time, he wondered if the trip to Istanbul had been a good idea.
“You spent time here at the palace.” No reason to ask; it was obvious from hazy expression that she was busy projecting a layer of recollection over the facade of the Harem’s interior.
“Mmm.” The corners of her mouth flinched as she bobbed her head. “About eight months. Had to been around 1535?”
“Eight months?” He tempered his curiosity, knowing the chances that he’d be upset by the answer to the next question stood at about fifty-fifty. “Why?”
She waved away the inquiry with a flick of her wrist. “I was after something. A rather sizable emerald, as I recall.”
They drifted into an open-air courtyard, surrounded on all sides by latticed windows. Topkapi, the home of the Ottoman Sultain for nearly three centuries, remained in an amazing state of preservation. Much like Victoria’s memories of it, it seems. Her eyes surveyed each in turn, finally settling on one second from end on the left.
A shadow of a thought leaked from her inner voice. My old room.
Dmitri dropped in behind an incoming tour group, composed of a dozen or so Japanese students using cameras for eyes. Their docent had just finished telling the click-happy crowd that the courtyard was used by the women of sultan’s court and only accessible by the reigning monarch, the Harem occupants and a few dozen eunuch guards, when he spoke up.
“Sumimasen, soko made shiyo sa rete iru mono no heyadatta nan’notameni?”
The deep voice and foreign resonance drew all eyes. Maybe it was the fact that he had at least six inches on each of them, or the fact that, with his pale skin, black hair, and European-looking features, Dmitri was the last person they’d expect to speak nearly perfect Japanese, especially while perusing an Ottoman historical site. Still, the question was not a difficult one. What was that room there used for?
The group leader, a pretty but otherwise plain looking woman dressed in a blue blazer and as confused as she was curious, followed Dmitri’s extended finger towards the second story.
“Ja-ree-yeah,” she answered, crisping the edges of each syllable. “Favorite concubines of sultan. Sorry, are you…”
He used his influence to shut down her curiosity, even knowing that as the conduit, Victoria would be well aware of it and chide him later. No matter, he had his chiding to undertake as well.
Victoria had moved through the courtyard and into the entry of one of the Harem’s many hamam, a communal bathing room.
“Thought he said he weren’t going to mind control anymore,” she said, keeping up her examinations of their surroundings. “You know how much I dislike when you do that.”
“And you know that I don’t like to leave a lasting impression, especially when we’re still technically on the run.”
Even centuries old, the elegance and possibilities of this room remained. In a moment, he could picture Victoria laying in repose atop one of the marble benches as an attendee lifted her hair and let fall a bowl, the warm water slicking down her back, collascing at the bottom of her spine, and sheeting over the curve of her hips. In his mind’s eyes, she arched in pleasure at the sensation, hissing her delight. The image immediately triggered his impulses, his temptations.
“You were a jariyeh.” His fingers laced around hers, keeping her planted.
“Not a very high ranking one, if that concerns you” she said with a bit of timber in his voice. “My tenure in Suleiman’s court coincided with the appearance of a certain Ukrainian beauty with whom he suddenly found himself obsessed.”
“And you had a hand in that?”
Victoria’s head swiveled his direction. “There were more gems than water in the palace in those days, and even more eyes. The last thing I needed was the sultan’s favor, especially when I was trying to steal from his treasury. It was hard enough to maneuver around with all the aga’s about. They guarded more than just the Harem from the outside world, you know. They also guarded the women inside it from each other. Besides, it wasn’t as though he and Alexandria weren’t attracted to each other. All I did was… nudge them a bit.”
A breath he didn’t even realize he’d been holding escaped. “So you didn’t sleep with the sultan.”
“Well, I guess that all depends on what your definition of sleep is.”
In a a movement too fast for any of the humans around to catch, Dmitri pulled Victoria along, moving them around the corner, past a set of perimeter ropes, and in to inner sanctum of the hamam. Dominance constantly fluxed between them, and usually Victoria fought him tooth and nail whenever he put on a chest-thumping display. Pressing her back into the marble and capturing her lips with his, he was delighted instead when she leaned into him for a change, wrapping her arms around his neck.
When at last he let her come up for air, she clicked her tongue in mock dismay. “You know, you’re going to get us kicked out of yet another historical site if you keep dragging me into closed off areas and making love to me.”
“Wife, I will have you wherever I wish.” He pressed another kiss without mercy just to drive home the point. “But when I find out you were concubine to a sultan… You must know that stirs the need to mark my territory.”
“Are you an animal now, Dmitri?”
“Don’t call me that.”
Her finger traced his bottom lip. “Fine. Are you an animal now, Osiris?”
Before she could fight it, he pulled power through her consciousness, using their combined strength to teleport away from Topkapi. Victoria blinked, her eyes adjusting to the dim light of their hotel suit a few kilometers away. It still amazed her how accurately he could transport them, whereas her weaker skills in that area always delivered her to a mere approximation of her intended destination.
His hands cupped her at the junction of the back of her thighs and her backside. He brought her legs up just as she wrapped herself around his hips, her face a flush, realizing he was about to show her that her body was totally under his exclusive dominion.
“I’m not an animal now,” he teased, walking her towards the bed. “But give me about two minutes, and I’ll be there.”
She grinned. “In my defense, it was a very big emerald.”