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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Hot Day

I open the door to B's air conditioned legal offices and give a questioning smile to the girl at reception.

"Is Miss B in?"

I get a gentle, affirming nod, but before she can reply B appears from out of her office door.

"I'm in and waiting for you," she says.

"What was so important that you had to leave a message on my private line?"

She ushers me in to her office, "All in good time." As I make myself comfortable on a new leather sofa she has bought for the expansive office, she closes the office door and walks around to her long, mahogany desk. "What will you have?"

"Have you had your Turkish coffee, yet?"

She shakes her head. "Waiting for you."

"Cool. Turkish coffee, then."

She nods, and picks up her phone to call the café next door. "Three Turkish coffees," she orders in polite Turkish. "Two without and one with sugar."

I resist the urge to raise an eyebrow. B looks at me as she places the receiver. Before either of us can say anything, there is another knock at the door.

"Come in," B calls, standing up.

The door opens to reveal a tall, mature woman standing hesitantly in the doorway. I get to my feet immediately, smiling at the stranger, assuming her to be one of B's clients. As she came in without being buzzed, one of her very important clients.

"Please come in Ms F," B invites her in, showing an empty chair by her desk. "I was just about to inform my colleague about your case."

"You can call me Ali," I say. The lady offers me her hand, I extend mine; we shake. She has a dark complexion reminiscent of the eastern Mediterranean or the Black Sea, but with features that indicate a mix of the Saxon and Latin. With formal introductions over, we sit down.

"Where do you come from Turkey?" I inquire in Turkish.

"I am a Turkish refugee from Transylvania," she says, with a slightly guttural, accented Turkish.

"You must have some great natural beauty over there," I smile.

"Yes we do. But why do you say that?"

"People born amongst such beauty cannot help but be beautiful themselves. I assumed the scenery of your home place reflects you Ms F."

She looks at me, smiling. "Now you must call me W, and you are very kind. You are also the first person not to make a vampire joke."

B coughs, and there is a knock at the door simultaneously. "That will be our coffees," she says as I turn to look at her. She moves towards the door this time, and opening it herself, welcomes a young dark boy wearing a football shirt and deftly holding a metallic tray with three small Turkish coffee cups and three glasses of water.

"And why aren't you at school, Hasan?" B frowns at him, as he enters sporting a toothless grin. "Where's your father?"

"Summer holidays madam," he chirps breezily, as he places the cups carefully on coasters provided on her office table.

"It's hot outside, keep in the shade, and go get yourself an ice cream with this. And don't bang any footballs at my office window," B shoots out a series of commands as she gives him the money.

Thanking B profusely, young Hasan is about to close the door as he leaves, but she holds it open, and cocking her head in my direction, indicates for me to follow her out of the office. "We'll just be a moment Ms F," she says.

"I didn't ask you over to chat her up," she hisses at me, once she has gently closed her office door and we are in the corridor. I smile at the girl on reception staring at us a few steps away as B spits in my ear; she gives me a small wave of her hand. I wave back.

"Your client looks uncomfortable B, what do you we do when a client is uncomfortable? We put them at ease," I respond easily, edging slightly away.

B looks at the receptionist, to me, and then back to the girl again, who places her hand in her lap, looking foolish.

"Are you on heat or something," she asks demandingly.

"On heat? What am I, a cat? It is slightly hot though in your office don't you think?"

"My office, like the whole damn building, as you well know, is air conditioned, and the heat your feeling is not coming from my office, but your pants buddy."

"Come on B, give. You are more of a witch today than usual. It's about this case, obviously. What is it that your more than competent hands can't handle and you had to call me away from my beach meditation?"

"I should be thankful you didn't come in your swimming briefs," she says, popping out one of her acidic smiles.

"Okay, enough, our coffee is getting cold and we're being rude to your client. If you're not going to give me the lowdown here, let me at least go in and get it from Ms F before it starts to get dark, already."

"Not Ms F, call her W remember? And why, are you afraid she might bite?" B gnashes her teeth, while batting her eyelashes. It isn't a pretty picture.

I shake my head in exasperation, and open the door to her office. I stand aside to make way for B to enter first. "After you, my dear Lamia," I joke.

Our smiles die as we enter. Ms F is sobbing quietly into her coffee. B rushes round and produces some tissues from a drawer in her desk, offering them to me to give to her. I take one, and kneel beside the crying lady.

"Here take this," I say.

"I-I'm so sorry- this is embarrassing-"

"No, no it isn't. If it makes you feel better, then you just go ahead and cry. Just don't let the tears ruin your coffee."

She smiles at me, and takes the tissue. Dabbing her eyes, she sniffs determinedly, "I do feel better, thank you."

B and I take our previous places and wait for Ms F to calm down.

"If you'd like to do this another time-" B begins, but Ms F waves a hand in refusal.

"No-no. It's just so... everything is so hard now."

I look questioningly at B, which prompts her to explain.

Main Index | End of part one | Part two | Part three | Part four

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