"We really should settle in before get this show on the road. Nigel and I are jet lagged and need to eat and shower before we get down to business Aaron." "ydney moved towards the front desk, ignoring Nigelís smart-ass remarks for the moment. It really was her fault... Sh... hated keeping anything from Nigel, but this time it had become very necessary. Sighing, she recalled him warning that they needed to start being more selective about what they choose to go chasing after in the future... well, not in the near future anyway. One thing at a time Sydney, she thought, and proceeded to check in.
"Thatís no problem! We arenít going to be heading out until tomorrow morning anyhow Sydney. I made arrangements for a charter flight to Malatya, after that weíll be depending on the grace of God." Aaron explained in his usually excitable way, and promptly got in between Syd and Nigel as they signed in. Placing one huge arm over both of their shoulders, he pulled them into a suffocating bear hug. "We are about to discover one of the greatest wonders on this planet!"
Sydney didnít bother to unpack, however, she did pull out something nice to wear considering Aaron made reservations for an early supper and some fun on the town that night. She walked over to the window to watch the sun set below the ancient horizon and sighed. It was a beautiful, magical evening. She found herself wishing Nigel was there to share it with her as a streak of guilt sliced through her body. Oh Nigel... Having the room all to herself did give her time for some reflective meditation, so she lay back on the bed and instinctively picked up her newest reference book, the Bible. Turning to the first few pages, she read...
...God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; the fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; and the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of one hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month on the seventeenth day of the month upon the mountains of Ararat...
But they were going to Mt. Judi. For this first time since receiving Aaronís invitation to help, Sydney was having some doubt. Placing one hand protectively across her waist, she shuddered from the inside out.
Nigel and Aaron patiently waited down in the lobby for the third of their group to finally make her appearance. While Aaron went on and on about the word of God almighty and everything else under the sun, Nigel busied himself tuning him out. Instead he marvelled at the workmanship detailing the walls and ceilings, and the colourful, intricate lace work lining the windows. Impressive, he thought. This building was a fantastic statement to Turkish craftsmanship indeed. Most of the guests here were American or European tourists, armed with cameras and travellerís cheques and out to capture the very essence of Turkey in all its magnificent grandeur. He found himself ruefully wishing he could be doing the same. He was damned near bored out of his mind!
That boredom was instantly abated when Nigel spotted her floating down the staircase in one smooth, ethereal motion. She was wearing a blue-green thing that swirled around her slender legs like silk under quiet, calming seas. The very notion had him clenching his fists, imagining that her eyes would change colour if he touched the soft, tanned flesh exposed by that low neckline. Oh dear...
"Sydney, at last!" Aaron left Nigelís side to join Sydney at once. "Weíll get an early start here, I have the greatest place in mind for dinner."
Sydney smiled, unable to hide her amusement, and casually stepped past him and walked straight towards her secret lover. "Letís go then. Nigel..." She offered her arm to her temporarily befuddled colleague and he graciously took hold without thinking, unable to breathe since he first caught sight of her.
"A-absolutely stunning, Sydney."
Overlooking the beautiful Sea of Maramara the trio dined the first of many various exotic foods. It was something Aaron referred to as simply, meze. It consisted of slices of honeydew melons and creamy feta cheese accompanied by a freshly baked loaf of bread.
"Oh God, Aaron, this looks and smells heavenly!" Sydney proclaimed as her eyes drank in the exciting culinary delights set before her. Their waiter then came to the table with three glasses of something neither Nigel nor Sydney had seen before. "Whatís this?"
"Itís tradition Sydney! You canít have meze without Turkeyís national drink!" He reached out and took up his glass.
It was a mysteriously milky substance, and didnít look all that appetising to Nigel. "Itís alcohol?" He asked, suspiciously inspecting his glass.
"Yes, it is. They call it raki, or Lionís Milk, and drinking this is a rite of passage in itself. Go on, have a taste..." He looked over to a very sceptical Nigel. "Put some hair on that chest of yours kiddo!"
Nigel glanced up from his place sporting a rather dubious look of doubt and lowered his face down into the glass, sniffing.
"Bottomís up!" Aaron raised his glass and before taking a sip, noticed Sydney had not joined in their toast as she usually would have. "Youíre not going to at least try it?"
"Ah...no, not this time Aaron. I need to keep my senses sharp while Iím here, focus on the Ark." She laughed nervously and kidded with him. "One sip of that and Iím likely to fall from my chair!"
"Well, suit yourself." With a mischievous wink, he tossed his head back.
Nigel was amazed she wasnít willing to try it either, and quietly leaned over to her while Aaron was finishing off the entire thing in one gulp! "Why arenít you going to at least taste it?"
"Look at him, heís going to order one after another...do you honestly think youíll be able to carry him home by yourself? No, no, youíll need me to help with that!" She whispered back. Her expression was serious, but she almost started to laugh despite herself. "He may be a Bible scholar and a God fearing man, but Nigel, heís also the most notorious alcoholic Iíve ever met!"
"What?" His face dropped, and he watched as Aaron proceeded to tell their server to keep them coming. "Oh, good grief..." Turning back to Syd, he sighed, becoming mildly irritated. "Is there anything else youíve elected to omit while weíre on the subject of things Nigel doesnít know but he bloody well should?"
She could feel her skin turn scarlet, and hoped to hell he didnít notice in the poor lighting. Plenty, she thought, but just smiled sweetly and nodded for his benefit.
Go to Part Six.