When Bethany Beaumont finds a book about life in the sultan’s harem, she discovers it’s actually a guide to the lost art of seduction. Just what she needs as she departs on a study abroad trip to exotic Istanbul. She’s struggling to get over her ex, and the book of dirty little secrets might be just the thing to help…if only she could find someone to practice on.
Half-Turkish and full of Australian swagger, teaching assistant Adam Kent seems to fit the bill. They decide to become lovers for the duration of the trip, and then part ways. Forever.
But not every lesson can be found in a book, and sometimes falling in love changes everything. When Bethany is forced to confront her past, and the promises she made to someone else, will it really be as easy as she thought to let Adam go?
The sound of a slamming door caught my attention. I’d wandered farther than I’d intended, and the dark, narrow street felt a little ominous. I was about to turn and head back to the main square when I saw a woman standing next to a black car, staring at me.
Tiny and beautiful, she had large, dark eyes and brown hair with an auburn tint. She wore a red dress, slinky and tight, hugging her small bosom and narrow hips. Her shoes matched her dress, and so did her lips, which were painted bright crimson. The color made her pale face seem even paler. She looked about my age, but her eyes seemed much older. A fascinating mix, and an interesting subject to capture.
Without realizing what I was doing, I raised my camera and snapped several photos of her.
One. Two Three.
I never took only a single shot. I had to take three to make sure I got the perfect one. What if I only took one and missed something better? But today there was no danger of that. The subject was perfect; exotic, fragile, and completely out of place in her surroundings. And there was something about her I recognized instantly, although it took me a second to put my finger on it.
The girl standing in the alley had a broken heart. I knew it when I saw it, because I had one, too.
A man appeared at her side, and grabbed her by the upper arm, pulling her toward a car. Her arm was so small, his entire hand wrapped around it, and he squeezed it hard enough to hurt.
I wondered if she needed help, but didn’t know how to ask. Truth be told, I didn’t know if I should ask. The girl didn’t act bothered or frightened, and whatever was between them seemed personal. Private. Maybe I was just being paranoid. After my best friend Gabriela had been raped last year, I’d started seeing everything as an assault. I needed to learn how to look at things more objectively. The camera helped because it was an impartial witness. Unemotional and cold.
The girl’s face looked unemotional and cold, too. A mask. Her eyes bored into mine, and I continued to snap her photo, like a silent pact between us.
One. Two. Three.
The man turned, seeing me for the first time. There was something about the twist of his lips that made me think he might be cruel. Or maybe it was the way his hand gripped her bony little arm, pressing into her skin. My heart pounded, but I didn’t flinch. I kept my camera up, focusing on his face as I took more shots.
One. Two. Three.
As he scowled and moved toward me, fear blossomed in my chest. I lowered my camera and took a step backward. I was alone in a strange country. I didn’t know the language. It had been a mistake to come down this alley all by myself. Even if I screamed and ran away, I had no idea what would happen. Would anyone hear me? Would anyone help?
I turned, in a complete panic, and bumped into a solid wall of muscle. A large hand gripped my shoulder. I let out a screech, and went into full ninja mode. I’d never taken a single martial arts class in my life, but now I made wild chopping motions with my arms and hands like some kind of psychotic Karate Kid. If I hadn’t been so scared, I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of it, but I was way too terrified to laugh at this point.
“Settle down, Bob. I’m here to take you back.” The man who’d kicked my suitcase stood behind me, looking intensely pissed off. “I can’t believe you got lost only a block away from the hotel. That takes skill.”
I blinked at him in surprise and lowered my hands, my camera dangling around my neck. “I’m not lost. Why are you here?”
He’d changed his clothing. He wore on a bright yellow t-shirt saying, “Anadolu Turizm” on it, followed by a bunch of Turkish words. His shirt may have looked sunny, but his demeanor did not. And he’d put his magnificent hair into a man bun.
Yuck. I hated man buns.
Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three sons (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.
She is a member of Pennwriters, RWA, Three Rivers Romance Writers, Mindful Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She teaches writing to children through the Young Writers’ Institute and at local libraries.
- 5x signed copies of Delayed Departure (INTL winner(s) will get ebook copy)