Books & Beyond

Excerpt: Lazar’s Mission by Kevin Sterling @ksterlingwriter

Posted on: December 18, 2013

FOUR

The Seafarer Intrepid was an enormous cruise ship with all the benefits of a small city. It featured countless venues to eat and drink, an entire deck of boutique shopping, a movie theater with stadium seating, a huge performance hall with two balconies, a two-story dance club, and countless other entertainment venues. Jack particularly liked the Promenade Deck, which was lined with restaurants and bars featuring storefronts and outside tables facing the water. Strolling along the teak deck had the ambiance of being on a street in Paris, and it elicited the temptation to commandeer a table at whatever venue struck one’s fancy for an espresso or a glass of wine while watching the people go by…and, in this case, the ocean as well.

Jack was traveling with his friends Philippe and Sandra, whom he had met in Cognac, France, a few weeks earlier amidst his investigation of a friend’s kidnapping. Sandra ran the visitors center at Feuilles d’Or, Philippe’s Cognac distillery, and it was love at first sight for both of them. But all that changed when Feuilles d’Or became the centerpiece of an international incident that revealed Sandra’s true identity as an undercover MI6 agent. Understandably, Philippe felt shocked and betrayed by Sandra’s secrecy. But in the end, he agreed to explore a new and different relationship with her, and this three-week cruise was intended to help nurse it along. The only thing Jack didn’t understand was why they wanted a relationship-challenged sex maniac like him to accompany them.

Nevertheless, the lovebirds had scheduled a number of romantic dinners on their own, including this evening, and on each such occasion Jack opted to dine at the Pan-Asian restaurant on Seafarer’s uppermost deck. Beautiful women from Indonesia comprised the entire waitstaff, and the food had been heralded by many of the top travel magazines as the best at sea, so it was a feast for the senses. Every single one of them.

Jack requested the same waitress each time he dined there, and he enjoyed the frequent opportunities to flirt with her. She did it so well, after all, and in an aloof way that differed from women in Europe or the States.

“Hello, Mr. Lazar. It is good to have you again this evening.” Melati opened the menu and handed it to him. “Do you see anything you like?” She placed her hands on her hips as if posing for him, and it was clear her words were chosen carefully—double entendres abound.

“Why yes, I do. But I’ll just start with an extra dry Grey Goose martini, please.”

“It would be my pleasure to get it for you.”

“And please call me Jack.”

“I am not allowed to call you by your first name.”

“Now that’s just silly.”

“How about if I call you ‘darling’?”

Wait a minute. How was she prohibited from using his first name, but it was okay to call him “darling”? Nevertheless, the sensuality in her almond-shaped, midnight eyes and the wry smile on her glistening red lips made the suggestion so very tantalizing.

“I would love that.”

“Very well, darling. I will get your martini right away.” She angled her head to the side, flashed a smile and arched a single eyebrow in an incongruously shy but suggestive way that Jack found very appealing, and he suspected it was a distinctive Indonesian flirtation technique she had mastered well.

“You’re a sweetheart. Thank you.”

Jack watched her trail off in the tight black dress, noticing how the long slit up the side revealed the majority of her right leg each time she stepped forward. She was petite and thin, but her body sported generous curves and a heart-shaped bottom that swayed like poetry when she walked.

Melati returned a few minutes later with the drink and centered it on the charger in front of him. “Here you go, darling.”

Terimah kasih.”

“Ah, you remembered our little Indonesian lesson.”

“Of course. I am truly captivated by everything you say.”

She gave him the slightest, playful bow. “Sama sama.

Absolutely adorable.

“So. What would you like to eat, darling?”

Jack smiled. He could easily listen to her call him that all evening long. “I’ll start with the shrimp wonton lemongrass soup, then the lobster roll, and for my entrée the hoisin and lime-glazed Chilean sea bass.”

“Lovely. And to drink?”

“I’ll have some of that cold Saki you recommended to me a couple of nights ago, please.”

“Yes, it is my favorite. What a shame I cannot join you.”

“A shame indeed. Perhaps later?”

Jack was probably asking her to violate the rules again, but she was perfectly free to say no, and he could easily smooth over a rejection in such a way that wouldn’t seem awkward. He desperately wanted to touch and taste this girl, to experience her unique sensuality, and there wasn’t a chance of a liaison if he didn’t ask.

Melati looked around, apparently to be certain no one had heard Jack’s proposal, and she lowered her lips to his ear with a soft whisper. “Perhaps.”

He felt her hot breath sweep over his ear before she walked away, and the rush of exhilaration from her words ignited at that very spot before bubbling through the rest of his body. What was he getting himself into?

The meal progressed like clockwork, and each course burst with more flavor than the one before. The sea bass fell to pieces as he cut it with his fork, and it melted into silky nothingness upon lingering in his mouth. The Saki proved to be a good choice, as it brought forth the richness of the hoisin-infused sauce and the fresh, earthy undertones of the mixed Asian vegetables. But the best part was the lightness of the meal, and after abstaining from dessert he would leave feeling light and nimble.

At the end, Melati brought him the check for the premium restaurant upcharge and the Saki, placing it on the table next to him.

“Here you go, darling.”

“Thanks, Melati. I assume my stateroom number is already on here?”

“Of course.”

“So, we both acknowledge that you have it.”

“Yes, we do.” She flaunted that wry smile again.

“And I will be in that very stateroom at eleven o’clock tonight, opening a bottle of red wine.”

“Really?”

“I’m just saying.”

“I love red wine.”

“I hoped you would.”

She winked at him and walked away, swinging that shapely bottom again with skilled precision.

Kevin Sterling

The Jack Lazar Series has it all from mystery and suspense to action, humor and romance
Jack heads to Egypt to investigate a crash-landed World War II fighter plane that was recently discovered in the middle of the Sahara. But something remarkable was left onboard, and people will stop at nothing to possess it.

An Egyptian Girl with Blue Eyes? Just Stunning.
But Jack soon finds himself in the middle of a hornet’s nest as he becomes enthralled with Dalia, an exquisite woman of Egyptian and English descent whose father is the Egyptian Head Consul to the UK, not to mention a formidable ex-agent with the Mukhabarat. The man’s skills and weapons come in handy as he and Jack join forces to battle a faction that has plans to kill millions of innocent people and subject the world to their twisted ideologies.

A Race Against Time
The trail leads to Northern Europe as all hell breaks loose. And before long, it’s up to Jack and Jack alone to cheat death as he struggles to save Dalia, her father, and scores of unsuspecting people from the plot of a deranged madman.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Action, Mystery, Suspense

Rating – R

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