Although Eyal has left Mossad, a master spy just doesn't quit, walk away from that life and never look back. He has spent time sailing but now he is back into the swing of spying, this time for the Greek National Intelligence Service (NIS) and his mission is to get close to a woman named Madilyn Zika, believed to be a dead drop carrier for the Russians.
Finding the Wild Orchid Cafe that his target owns, Eyal ran his hand through his hair, look at his side-kick, "Okay Jericho, you need to be cute and cuddly so we'll make a new friend."
Eyal's partner for the day is Jericho, a Beauceron breed dog, mostly black with reddish-tan stockings, muzzle and chest. Weighting in 82 pounds, he is no tiny pooch but his face is adorable with expressive eyes and head tilting way about him that make people notice. A well-trained and behaved dog, Jericho was perfect for Eyal's needs as his target is an animal lover. Madilyn Zika having three dogs, an African grey parrot and a few cats, one could find a something talk about - pets.
The morning was slow at the café when Eyal and Jericho arrived for bougatsa and coffee. Madilyn was waiting tables when she spotted the tall handsome man with his dog take a table to one side of the outdoor sidewalk area.
"Good day and welcome to The Wild Orchid. May I be of service?"
Looking up from the menu, Eyal giving her his charming smile, "Coffee and let me see, yes one of your famous Bougatsa."
"Be right back." Returning with his order, "Nice dog you have, what is his name?" Letting the dog sniff her hand before rubbing his head and Jericho's tail swishing from side to side.
"Jericho and he likes pretty ladies. He would like for you to join us for a cup of coffee. Please."
With a chuckle she looked at Jericho as if he was the one speaking, scratching his ear, "Sure, why not, can't turn down an offer from such handsome dog." Smiling at Eyal, "Let me go and get my coffee before it turns cold."
Madilyn quickly returning with a pot of coffee and a cup, "My name is Madilyn Zika."
"Our pleasure, I'm George, George Yiokas."
"Do you come here often George?" She was slipping her coffee.
"No, first time. I'm killing some time before Jericho and I go to meet a friend for an afternoon of doggie type excise. "
"What do you do George?" Making small talk, Madilyn was a bit intrigue with this stranger.
"Art and antiques broker, mostly dealing in European art. And you, may I ask."
"This is my café. My late husband left it to me. I enjoy being here and meeting people. So that is how you spend your off time, with your dog. How nice."
"Pretty much, Athens is not the wide open spaces that he likes - I guess it is a treat for both of us to get out of the city and to the seaside."
"So you live in the city."
"Yes, for the time being. I've started looking for a place closer to the sea and more open for Jericho."
"My brother is in the real estate business. Maybe we should get with him to look at a few places."
"Now that would be lovely. Yes we should." Eyal finding a business card in his pocket and handing it to her, "Give me a call and we can set a date for house hunting." Eyal was reaching for the check another waiter had left.
Madilyn turning the card over in her hand and reading it, "Here let me pay for it. You know the saying, it's on the house!"
"No way, my treat, besides Jericho would be impossible to live with if I didn't treat such a beautiful lady" Eyal smiled at her.
"Thank you, and you must bring Jericho around for dinner, we have bones." She smiled and stood up, patted Jericho on the head and walked inside the café.
Eyal looking down at the dog, "That were very well, don't you think. I know, females are easy for you to impress. Okay lets head out to Glyfada and more hanging out."
Eyal drove his 2door BMW 1 Series Hatchback across the bridge to Glyfada and parked in front of Annie's temporary apartment while she was on assignment in Greece. Eyal open the hatchback of the BMW and Jericho jumped out onto the sidewalk and sat, waiting for Eyal to hook the leash onto his collar. He looked around for a fire hydrant or tree, Eyal knew what the dog wanted and walked him to a nearby tree. Now we have a happy dog.
The apartment building where Annie was staying had been a single family home at one time and converted into two flats. The neighbor was in the older section of Glyfada with white stucco buildings, rust color tile roofs, cut stone walls and walkways. Overgrown pink flowing bushes and palm trees gave a postcard feel the area - quaint and inviting.
It was 10 minutes to noon and he knew that Annie was still at church, so he set on the steps of her apartment building to wait, Jericho sitting with him, watching people walk past, a couple with a baby buggy, some teenage girls and one very old man with a cane. Eyal was pleased that Jericho just watched, not showing any signs of aggression - he is the family guard dog.
Eyal may be away from Mossad but his still has many connections and knew Annie was in Greece on a long-term mission to uncover the leak within Phoenix Corporation, manufacturer of signaling components for aircraft guidance systems in US fighters. Part of her cover - a sweet all American nerd type tech assistant. He had watched her leave work one day with her hair pulled up in a twist, wearing glass - no makeup, a printed flower dress and flat shoes. She played the role well and definitely wouldn't stand out for a second look. It was not difficult to find her living quarters.
A little after noon, he spotted Annie with an older women walking down the sidewalk. They were chatting with each other when he stood up, Annie stopped cold, when recognizing Eyal and his smile. Her friend slowed, looked back at Annie and then at the tall man standing on their front steps. Annie gathers herself up from the shock of seeing Eyal and waved as the ladies approached. Jericho stood, his tail wagging as he could sense some more affection walking to him. As Annie and the woman got closer, Jericho started to prance on his front legs.
"He looks happy to see you." said Annie's companion.
In a very friendly voice, "Hello my big boy." She was scratching the dog's neck and ears. "Hi Eyal, this is a surprise, never expected to see you here. Is this your dog?"
"A nice surprise I hope." answered Eyal, "Jericho is my brother's dog. I'm doggie sitting today." Eyal smiling at the older woman, "Hello, I'm Eyal."
"Oh yeah, by all means a wonderful surprise... Here... where are my manners...Letiza, this is Eyal Lavin, uh...My work partner, Eyal, this is Letizia Mancini, my downstairs neighbor and landlord."
"Very nice to meet you, looks like Jericho is happy also with seeing you ladies." Eyal answered
Letizia holding her hand out to the dog, Jericho gave a quick sniff and licked it. "Beauceron isn't he? My brother had one - very loyal breed." she was now patting Jericho on the side. The woman laughs as Jericho presents his arsenal of adorable behaviors: cocks his head, wags his tail, twitches his nose, and offers her his best doggie smile. Letizia is charmed, showing no fear of the animal and clearly takes pleasure in stroking the dog's ears as Jericho leans into her. In return, the canine seems smitten by this gentle woman.
"I think you are the only person in Greece that knows the breed." Eyal was pleased with her knowing what breed of dog Jericho was. "I'm on my way to the beach for an afternoon of doggie excise; would you ladies like to join us?"
Letizia with arm slightly patting to her side, "Does it look like I excise..." tilting her head to one side, "Yeah, I have a large pot of spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker, it will only take me a minute to fix some pasta, have lunch with me before you go, and you will need the carbohydrates."
Annie, "I don't know..."
Eyal, "Come on Annie, what else were you planning for such a picturesque day."
Letizia, "Go on Annie change clothes while I fix lunch. Eyal, you and Jericho come in side with me while Annie transforms into something more suitable for the beach." Letizia playing match maker for the homely looking, shy Annie and this handsome man seemed interested.
Annie, "Okay, I'm gamed - be down in a few minutes." she disappeared up the steps to her second floor apartment.
Eyal followed Letizia into her apartment with Jericho walking behind his new friend. She lead them to the kitchen where she had a beef bone in the refrigerator she used for cooking and showed to Eyal for his okay to give to Jericho. Eyal nodded, and Jericho with his bone settled in the corner enjoying his gift.
Letizia made herself busy with lunch, "Annie is a lovely person, and she makes a wonderful neighbor. So you work for Phoenix, Annie tells me that she likes the work which also gives her flexible hours."
Eyal smiled knowing she is just trying to make small talk, "I like working there, sometimes it gets boring but not all jobs can be fun all the time. I hear an Italian accent, where are you from."
"Florence, Italy, I came here 18 years ago." She answered but wanting that to be the end of the conversation. "Here taste this." she held a spoon with sauce for Eyal taste.
"Excellent, I should come by more often. Where are your plates, I'll set the table." Eyal knew the Italy connection had come to an end and so had the Phoenix conversation. He busied himself with setting the table and she made fresh salad. About the time lunch was ready, Annie knock on the door.
"I'll get it." Eyal walked through the living room to open the door for Annie. "Timing is perfect."
"My specialty" she smiled as she past Eyal. She had changed into jeans, a pink, purple and rose color printed ladies T-shirt with a light weight blue sweater, hair pulled back in a pony tail. She stopped in the middle of the room and looks back at Eyal, placing her hand on his chest, "You kind of took me off-balance showing up today. And how did you know where I'm staying or that I was in Greece?"
"I have my sources." Taking her hand and kissing it in his playful flirtatious way.
"Why are you here?" Annie still puzzled at Eyal showing up out of nowhere, but then that was Eyal.
"To see a dear friend. My only mission today is walking the beach with you and Jericho - nothing more." He winked at her as they headed to the kitchen and lunch.
After lunch, they headed to a remote section of the beach. The smell of the sea water from a lower inlet, the gentle breeze, the sand between their toes, made for a fun fill afternoon of two close friends being together. The air was still cool for early spring, and Jericho was jumping, running and being his playful doggie self.
"I didn't know you had a brother."
"How do you think I have a niece without a sibling? Remember the Powder Puff Girl on the brief case or has too much time passed from our first meeting?"
Annie shaking her head and waving one hand, "Oh I remember our first meeting very well. You were so damn arrogant?"
"And you so green. Your protocol was about to drive me barmy."
"Things have changed since then and you have been a big part of my growing in spy-craft."
"You are a natural Neshama, just need to learn the ropes of being an independent operative." Eyal rubbing Jericho behind the ears before pitching the tennis ball for him to fetch.
"I learned from you, the master of masters."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence." Eyal giving Annie a hug around her shoulders. They walk along together talking about their backgrounds with the CIA and Mossad and some of the things they would like to do in their free time.
"So Eyal, what do you like to do in your down time since leaving Mossad?"
"I have a neighbor that enjoys playing chess; we are trying a play as much as possible." He picked up the tennis ball that Jericho had returned and heaved it again for him. "And believe or not, I like classical music."
"Oh I would believe it, you are a quite loner just the type that would enjoy being with the finer things in life." Annie was sure there was more but didn't push. There was very little she knew about Eyal and wanted to know more but now wasn't the time for questions.
"Okay Annie Walker, what do you do to spend your free time?"
"Well let's see, going to the beach and reading mystery novels...
"I like the British authors; they are more into solving a case then the American authors." Eyal looking over her head at the waves rolling in for the sea.
"You read mystery novels?"
"Take a look at my collection in the Washington apartment, a wealth of British mystery books, yeah, I like a good mystery."
"You still have your Washington apartment?" Her voice fading off.
"Yeah." Eyal was looking at her as she was looking at something in the distance.
"Look up there... Something doesn't look right." she was nodding toward a dark SUV parked near the beach and access road to a boat ramp, three men stand in front of the SUV.
Eyal quietly whistled for Jericho to return, "My guess is we are about to witness a drug deal going down." He put Jericho back on his leash.
"Do we just stand here and watch or do something." Annie had her hand on Eyal's arm and was looking at his face, so if anyone saw them, they would think they were a couple having a conversation.
"Nice move Annie," he lean down to the side of her face and whispered into her ear "Not our job, we can't save the world, just take care of our assignments."
About that time she saw one of the men looking in their direction, "They are watching." Annie said softly, with that, Eyal slipped his free arm around Annie's waist, pulled her close and kisses her. She responded with her arms around his neck. They held that kiss - for the benefit of the men and maybe for them. The man who had been looking at them said something to the other men and then turned toward his business at the SUV but once more turn to watch Annie and Eyal.
Eyal broke away from the kiss, ran his hand down her arm and took her hand, "Let's walk back leisurely, so we look like moonstruck lovers."
"Moonstruck actors more like it." Annie remarked.
"Who was acting," Eyal squeezed her hand.
Soon they were out of sight of the three men and the SUV, and made their way to the legendary stone walkway along the beach. Eyal held Jericho close by his side and turned to Annie, "No trip to the beach is complete without sampling souvlaki from the original 'Evando's Tavern.' How about a souvlaki?"
The tavern was fairly empty and they found a cozy table to enjoy their souvlaki and a beer. Jericho resting on the floor beside them, eyes closed catching a quick snoozed.
Eyal with his dark enchanting eyes and smirk, "You really are a pretty even if you are nerdy."
"I must say you have seen me at my worse."
"Playing the game Neshema. I'm impressed as usual. So tell me, how long is this assignment?"
"Not sure, could be a couple of months or more. I hate to assume anything but my guess is you already know some of the details."
"Just the overall mission. It shouldn't take you very long to zone in to the target. Let's change the subject to something more interesting...Like us."
"Didn't know there was an us."
"Then you haven't been paying attention." Eyal moving a bit closer with his charming air and tinkling eyes.
"You do have a way Eyal. Is there a serious bone in your body?" Annie loving the flirting but was careful not to give him too much encouragement.
"Not when I'm around such a beautiful woman. Now tell me, how are things back in Washington?"
"Same old - same old... There is a matter I might want to discuss with you but not now. It's complicated and totally hush-hush."
"When you are ready Annie. You should know you can trust me to help in any way." Looking at his watch, "Time is getting late, we should be going Neshema."
It was around seven that evening when Eyal parked the BMW in front of Annie's apartment house. He got out walk around and opens the door for Annie, walks her up the front steps. She turned to Eyal and put her hand on his cheek.
"I had a terrific time this afternoon Eyal." Sparking light dancing in her hazel eyes. She was truly delighted in being with him and somewhat hated for the day to end.
Eyal, "I enjoyed the afternoon too... Annie, may I call you sometime for dinner or a day of sailing?" Eyal stepping a little closer to her.
"I don't Eyal, I shouldn't..."
"Because you have another man in your life by the name of Auggie."
"Uh... Well yes, I guess that is the reason... But how did you know?"
"I hear things. Just because you are in a love affair with Auggie Anderson doesn't mean to have to turn your back on a friend. Have I ever stepped over the line with you in anyway? Or am I not your friend anymore."
"No you haven't Eyal; I must say you have been the perfect gentleman and show up when I need a friend. Yes a good friend."
"So what is the problem?" Eyal taking her hand and holding it to his lips.
"No problem. Sure Eyal, I would like that. Please give me a call." she touching his cheek softy; turned and went into the building. Climbing the steps to her flat, her heart catching a few quick beats from being with Eyal - some old feelings returning as how she felt just being with him.
Eyal got back into his car and talking to Jericho, "Good day my friend, a very good day. Now let us go to the boat and see the family." Jericho was in full agreement - food would be waiting for him.
Four days later, Annie returning from her job at Phoenix Corporation to find a basket of fruit at her door with a card. Opening the card and reading, 'These are not my words but my feelings. Remember I'll always be near for you. E'
The Beauty of Friendship
Friendship is a Priceless Gift,
It cannot be bought or sold;
But its value is far greater,
Than a mountain made of Gold.
For gold is cold and lifeless,
It can neither see nor hear;
And in the time of trouble,
It is powerless to cheer.
It has no ears to listen,
Nor heart to understand.
It cannot bring you comfort,
Or reach out a helping hand.
So when you ask God for a gift,
Be thankful if He sends...
Not diamonds, pearls or riches,
But the Love of a Real True Friend.
Helen Steiner Rice
Annie's heart is being torn between two men. Holding the card in her hand, tears filling her eyes, maybe it is not Auggie that she thinks she is in love with - the man with stability. Or could a tall, dark Israeli with levels of uncertainty and anonymity be tugging at her heart - only if Eyal wasn't so elusive. Holding the card close to her heart, she could only dream one day of being in the arms of Eyal Lavin.