Greek Passions

By: Holly Rayner





She dug her phone out of her purse and, sure enough, it was Layla calling. “This had better be good,” Kally mumbled to herself before answering the phone with a voice of mock cheer.



“You’re not going to believe this, Kally,” Layla began excitedly, not even stopping to say acknowledge Kally's greeting. “I’ve got another potential client for you. He wants to meet with you right away.”



“Right away? You have to be kid…I appreciate you letting me know, Layla, but it’s nearly midnight,” she sighed. She had regularly worked past midnight back at the Republic, but that had been because news can happen at any moment, and when it does, it waits for no one. This, on the other hand, was a writing assignment. What on earth did someone want her to do that couldn’t wait for a more reasonable hour? “See if you can schedule him for sometime tomor…”



“He says tomorrow will be too late for his purposes. He’s offering good money for it, and it would really be to everyone’s advantage if you at least heard him out.”



“How much is he offering?” Kally asked, sighing, and Layla went on to name a sum that made her eyes water.



“Okay, so you've piqued my interest. What’s his name?”



“I’m not permitted to tell you that. Or anything else except the location. It’s Big Tony’s.”



“In Manhattan?” she asked incredulously.



“Yes, Kally. In Manhattan,” Layla replied, sounding nettled.



“You’re asking me to go to Manhattan at midnight to meet a stranger in a diner? Again? When the hell did my life become Mission: Impossible?”



“I don’t know, but this client has a great deal of influence in government and the private sector. It’s inconvenient, I know, but it's perfectly safe. This is not an opportunity I would pass up, Kally. Connections like these could springboard your writing career…”



“Alright, alright. You can stop selling it. I’m going. This is the weirdest day I’ve ever had,” she muttered, more to herself than Layla. She very reluctantly marched back to the subway, hanging up with her agent as she did so.



The train was emptier than usual, and Kally was counting down the seconds until she got home. A short, grizzled old man, clearly drunk, was very loudly holding court at the end of her car. His scraggly, white beard and diminutive size made it look like his last employer was Thorin and Company. Kally was doing her best to ignore him, as well as the guy who was carrying a dollar store in his trench coat. Two women her age were talking animatedly about nothing, while a guy two rows away was making a valiant effort to flirt with her. She stared at this last murderously, and he deflated visibly, keeping his seat. Right then, Alexandros was the furthest thing from her mind. Kally only wanted to get to Manhattan and deal with her unknown summoner as quickly as possible.



***





Half an hour later Kally arrived outside of Big Tony’s, a place about as different from The Three Rivers as it was possible to be.



The diner was a small building with a simple welcome mat and glass doors that bore steel handles. It had no vestibule to speak of, but it did have many elegantly-decorated, round tables. A soft jazz instrumental wafted through the intimately-lighted space, and pictures of famous places in New York brightened the walls.



In the center of the room, there was a bar, and standing behind it, Kally saw a well-built man whom she recognized instantly. He looked like a tall football player in a coal-black suit. He had a strong, square jaw and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. The dark auburn hair on his head was slicked back. When he saw Kally, he flashed a pearly white, movie star smile.



“Care for a drink, ma’am?” he asked casually, with a Texan twang, waving the glass of bourbon he’d been nursing.



“I’m guessing you’re the client I'm here to see, Mr. Lewis,” Kally replied, taking a seat at the bar and ordering a rum and coke. “Still no comment on the insider trading scandal?” she asked with a touch of sarcasm.



“Still no comment on the insider trading scandal,” Don replied with an easy laugh. “Sorry to call ya out here so late,” he continued, handing over her drink, “but what I wanna propose really can’t wait till morning. Sure I had to lie to get you out here, but I think you’ll agree it was worth the trouble.”



Kally glossed over the fact that she had just turned one of the most powerful men in America’s oil industry into her bartender. Don Lewis Jr. was a man she knew well from the days when she could call herself a journalist without saying “former” first. Ever the stereotypical Texas cowboy, he’d stood against his shareholders, the press, and several congressional committees.

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