The sequel to A Homecoming.
This is the opening to the sequel to my romance short story - www.amazon.com/dp/B075BJH2D2. I class the story as a relative success because it did sell three e-books at a time when my e-books were not selling.
Kim Altland, a Jewish writer who returned to Israel.
Adrianna Kucinski - Kim's friend and lover
Mark Wilkerson - Kim's school friend.
Hannah Holm - Kim's Danish friend and one-time colleague in the field.
Abir Moszkowicz- the former editor of the Jewish Express newspaper, and Kim's friend and mentor.
We left Kim and the lovely Adrianna waiting for a call from Hannah at the end of the last story.
Hannah had flown to London to meet Kim. She arrived to be told by his editor, Abir, that Kim decided to stay in Israel. At a loss, she said her thank you and flew back; before arranging to have a well-earned break with an old friend who lives in Gavle, Sweden.
In Isreal, Kim and Adrianna are contemplating what to do, as Hannah said she would ring them when she arrived in Tel Aviv, but that wouldn't be for some time. Assuming Hannah didn't get another assignment in the meantime, or that they didn't go to Italy as they had planned and forgot Hannah was due to arrive.
Kim put the phone in the cradle and looking at his watch he said, "It's all in the air, love. We've no idea when Hannah will be calling. I hope we can be here for her, but we need to make our plans for the coming weeks before we go further."
Adrianna was in the kitchen doing some cooking, and replied, "As always, you worry too much, Kim. Of course, we'll be here for Hannah. Our plans are flexible, do you have anything in mind?"
Kim strolled across the room. His walk aided by leaning on various objects placed to give him support as his ankle was not healing after his accident at Masada when his tendon tore. He leaned on the doorjamb and said, "Other than going to the hospital to register with the doctor so I can get my medicinal needs, I have no pans. At some time, I would like to visit the hills around Haifa to get an impression of how severe the fire damage was last year from the firestorms caused by those terrorists, I saw the damages caused on TV, but you don't get the full view on the TV. I won't deny, love, seeing all the fires and seeing how people came from all over, including our enemies of old, to help us in a time of need brought me to tears. You can argue that the people who threw the bombs at the start did not envisage such horrendous fires, but I would argue against you. They know the ground is dried after the worst series of droughts in decades, and that the winds that cross the plains are hot and dry which would fan the flames. There is no way, to my thinking, that the fire bombers had not planned the fire damage. What they didn't figure is the help we got from our "enemies" as well as close friends."
Adrianna took a step back and replied, "Hold on, Kim, I'm on your side. There is nothing you need to prove. I support your views 100% and think the people who threw the petrol bombs along with the people who gave the orders should be brought to trial, but we know it won't happen. The best we can hope for is what we are seeing happening now. Now the US has a new president, Israel has a reliable ally at the United Nations. With Mr. Trump cutting the funds to the PA, and Mrs. Haley attacking the PA on all fronts, the West is seeing that Israel is not the enemy the Obama administration said we were. I can only thank the Lord that Mrs. Clinton didn't get in, or there would have been another World War not long after the inauguration."
"I'm sorry, love, it's just that seeing all the homes and businesses lost to the fires makes me so angry. People had fought against the harsh land to make our country prosperous, and for what? So, some youths can destroy years of work in a few minutes for some deviant pleasure. I read an account in Israel Today magazine of a family who drove through Bethlehem and managed to keep ahead of the blazing olive for a few miles. I've never been in that situation, but it sounded horrific. When I watched in horror as the flames encroached on Haifa, I could see the fire tenders were fighting a losing battle. They were too far away to do any good, and the heat was so intense that the water turned to steam in the air long before it got near the city. I hate to think what may have happened if the Americans hadn't sent their new supertankers in to waterbomb the flames."
Adrianna crossed the kitchen, and cuddling Kim; she said, "I know what you mean. I was out of town at the time, and when I returned, the roads were full of fire tenders and men who were worn out from hours of fighting the fires. The only thing as bad as what we had to endure was the oil fires in Alberta, in Canada. It was heart-breaking to watch those and know that a lot of wildlife would die in the flames. Our problem is the dryness of the land and the oils from the Olive groves, the problem in Canada is the area is built on an oil-field that was fueling the fires."
"From what I can ascertain from the few people I had contact with about my trip here this year. It would appear that there is a group who wish me to be the new voice for the Israel of the future; my record has gone before me. How much Abir knew about the group is in the wind, but I have my perceptions that he knows a lot more than he told me. He almost pushed me on this vacation when I asked for the time off."
"Well, in your words, love. You hadn't taken a vacation in several years, the only time you took away from the London office has been work-related. As for Abir, he's a wise man in many ways. I have friends like him, and people seek their counsel. Though we don't know what groups they have contact with they appear to have their ears to the ground and know what is coming before other people sense a change is in the air."
Kim smiled, then replied, "Wise men all, but not wise to cross them at any cost." Kim winced with pain, then said, "I'll need to sit down, love, my ankles are aching so much these days it's almost impossible to stand the pain; my painkillers are doing their best, but they are taking the edge off the pain, no more. Can you give me your arm, please, so I can get to the bed and have a rest?"
Adrianna helped Kim to their bed and watched as he eased himself onto the bed. "It's getting worse isn't it!"
"I won't lie. Some days it is all I can do to stand up for a few minutes at a time. The good thing about being a writer is I don't need to stand for long unless I need to go to a meeting with a contact."
Adriana smiled, the said, "On the subject of writing. Have you considered Abir's proposal for being the editor?"
Kim began to ease himself up on the pillows, even though this was a painful task; then he said, “I have given the offer a lot of thought. It would increase my profile, if not my rep as a writer to be the editor, but I am not after power. I could do the job as well, if not better than, most people at the paper.” He paused to let his thoughts gather.
Before he went on, Adriana said, “Do I sense a but approaching?”
He smiled, and replied, “Yes. If I become the editor, it will entail more office work and less work in the field.” He paused, then continued, “I'm selfish aren’t I. With my condition worsening, nobody will hire me as a reporter now. The job of the editor could be my opportunity to make an enormous contribution to the cause, and remain a writer as many papers have an editorial page.”
Adriana waited for him to continue his line of thought, then said, “So, have you made your choice?”
He glanced at her, then commented, “I do need a job and being disabled it needs to be one I can do from home, or at least sitting down. I won’t deny that I will miss my days in the field; they were my driving passion, but now there is a new challenge ahead.” Looking at the clock on the wall, Kim said, “I’ll phone him and tell I accept his offer in the morning as he’ll be out of the office.”
Adriana smiled to herself, seeing this Kim asked: “What’s on your mind?”
She commented, “I thought that as the editor, you could choose when you had your vacation to Italy easier. I will keep you to your promise; you know that!”
Kim beckoned her to the bed, and pulling her to him, he cuddled her in his arms and whispered, “I know you will, but you needn’t concern yourself; I want to go as much as you do. All we need to do is coordinate our trip with Hannah if that’s okay with you.”
Adriana winked at Kim, then said, “I’d like to meet Hannah; for one thing I wish to ask her how close you to were in the days before we met, love.”
There was a pause, then Kim blushed.
Kim took a breath, then commented; "Don't you think asking Hannah about our time together could embarrass her, love?"
Adriana smiled and replied, "From what I've seen of Hannah, which I admit is not a lot, I doubt much will embarrass her, love. She comes over as a driven lady with a strong personality, From what I know about you, that is your type of lady. It's easy to see why you are attracted to her, and the attraction is reciprocated I can sense that from her."
"Doesn't that worry you?"
"That other ladies find you attractive, not in the slightest, if anything it adds to your charms as I love what they desire. Besides, as they say, The way to find out if a person loves you is to give them their freedom; if they return, they love you, if the person returns you know they love you, and if the person doesn't then they were never yours to have. If you'd wished to leave there would have been nothing I could have done to stop you, and I wouldn't have stood in your way, but you are here, and I am aware you could leave now if you wished, but you stayed."
There was a calmness that engulfed the lovers, then Adrianna said, "have you thought about Abir's proposal?"
Kim held his thoughts for a second, he knew what he was about to say would come as a shock to Adrianna, then he continued; "Yes, I don't think being an editor is for me. I appreciate the offer, and I know Abir knows me well enough to consider I can do the task, but I don't see myself sitting as the judge on the work of better-qualified writers than me. I made my reputation as a hard-hitting investigative journalist, that is what I am good at."
"You appear to have made your mind up, but have you thought this job could be the next step for you? After all, a good editor needs to be a good writer, as you keep telling me. Abir is one of the best writers I've read in decades, and he's your mentor. What better praise to him, than for the pupil to outshine the master?"
"For me to outshine Abir would be a major achievement, he's gained such a huge rep in his time as writer and editor. The best I could wish for is to emulate his success; I could not surpass him."
"Ask yourself, why did Abir send me here?"
"The workings of Abir's mind had puzzled me since we met all those years ago when I was a raw recruit. He sees in me things that I fail to understand. He has better qualified, and more capable, writers on his staff but he's stuck by me through thick and thin. Even when I've come under attack for my articles from many sources, he's been there for me."
"Why do you think that is?"
"I think it's because he likes my style because I ask the questions other journalists shay from asking. In a way, I think he sees a younger version of himself in me, he came to the fore at a time when Israel was in flux and world opinion was against us, much like it was until recently, and still is in many European countries. I read that there has been a significant increase in applications from the UK for Jews to take an Aliyah in the last two years. That is one of the reasons I decided not to return to the UK."
"For what it's worth, I think you'd make a great editor; you have the foresight to notice a good story and the obstinance to stick with it at any cost. I never had the opportunity before to tell you, but when my agent told me she'd arranged our meeting I was delighted; for many years I've been an admirer of your work as have many of countrymen. Like them, I feel we need a new voice to let the world view Israel as not the enemy the media in the West shows us to be, and who better than you to fulfill the task?"
"A lot of people have faith in me, and my work as a writer, that is something I find both perplexing and daunting. Perplexing because other than a few stories, I have not had many sales for my books, and daunting because it places a lot of pressure on me to keep the high standards of my work up."
"That's true, but the quality of your work has never dropped all the years I've been reading it; if anything the standard has gone up despite the pressures to write what sells you write what you feel the public want to read. I think your problem is you feel the need to be validated. There are many people who you respect who wish you to succeed; I'm positive Hannah is one of them, as we'll find out soon enough."
Kim thought hard about what Adriana had just been saying, and he realized what she had said was the truth. Then he commented, "We may have been born in the same generation, but our outlooks are eons apart. You think like an Ashkenazi; you have a drive and a purpose that burns in your soul for success; that explains your success as a writer. I think more like a Sephardi. I am not so driven, my thoughts are more family-orientated, which probably explains my reluctance to take on this job offer from Abir, I lack the drive to think I can achieve what others think I could do."
Adriana nodded in agreement, then said, "I see you're keeping the weight of your left foot, is the tendon sore, love?"
He winced as he had to shift his weight from foot to foot, then replied, "Yes, I'll need to take a rest for a while, love. After that, we can discuss what we plan for the next week or two, as Hannah is busy."
"Okay, you take a rest on the bed, and I'll make a start on the meal for tonight as we decided not to go out."
Kim limped to the bed, and laid down taking the weight of his legs; he hadn't been dozing long when the phone rang. He rolled across the bed to reach for the phone, but Adriana beat him to it. After looking at the caller ID, She answered, “Hi, Hannah. How’s Denmark?”
She heard a laugh, and then Hannah replied, “Hi, Adriana. I wouldn’t know, I didn’t have time even for a shower before I got sent to London to meet Abir. He said Kim is staying in Israel, is that true?”
“Yes, it is true. For months, Kim has been uneasy about the rise in anti-Semitic views in the UK. I think that is contributing to his decision to stay here. I'll hand you over to Kim so you can make your travel arrangements. I'm looking forward to meeting you again; I have some questions to ask you about before we met."
"Well, you know I'm an open book, and I'll do what I can to help you two resolve your issues."
"It's nothing like that, Hannah, I'm just curious about your time together and how close you were."
There was a pregnant pause from Hannah's end, followed by a silence as Adriana handed the phone to Kim.
Kim took the phone from Adriana and said, "Hello, Hannah. From the frown on Adriana's face, am I to assume that you didn't get the rest you were looking forward to?"
"Hi, Kim, yes you're correct. Between flying to London to meet with Abir, then being sent on another assignment I haven't had the time to sort my break out. Abir said he'd offered you the job as the editor; is it true? He also said you are going to stay in Israel, is that true also?"
"I haven't chosen the job yet. I will probably stay here as the situation in Europe for Jews has become untenable. I can give you a clearer idea of my decision when we meet for our interview. When do you want to schedule the meeting for?”
“I have some time to take as I am overdue a vacation. I was going to take a trip over to Sweden for a weekend break with a friend in Gavle. We’re old friends from school and this is a regular meeting, but I have had to shelve that plan as I have the new assignment. One day, perhaps, I will get the opportunity to have a few days to myself but don't hold your breath. At the moment, I have no idea when I will be able to meet you. I apologize for not telling you sooner, but I only found out a day ago myself."
"I'm sorry that you didn't get your rest. I know how much the work means to you. You're like I used to be, you are driven to find the story. I can't see you turning down work, even if you're deadbeat and worn out as you are now. As for the information about our life together, you can tell Adriana whatever you wish as we've nothing to hide."
Hannah paused, then said, "I know, we had a hell of a time on assignment; mostly because all we had was the moment we lived in, I realize that is a hedonistic view of life, but when you never know if your next breath will be your last, what else can you do?"
Kim said, "I'll hand you over to Adrianna as I need to consider the job offer from Abir; I am unsure of how to approach the editor's job as I'm only a writer."
Kim handed the phone to Adriana, then Adriana said, "Hello Hannah, I don't mean to pry into your past with Kim; I am only interested in the side of his life I didn't know to try to understand him better."
Hannah continued, "Hi Adriana; you can ask what you wish to know, we have nothing to hide from you or anyone else. We infrequently met on assignments; the times were passionate and hectic because we never know if this moment was all we had. When you live the lives we did, you tend not to think of the future for it may not be yours to have."
"Thank you for your candor, did you love him?"
"That's hard to say as we were working together and living in the other's pockets, but we never thought of our tomorrows. The sex was tender and at times a little rough, but that is all it was, sex not love and we knew it. I can put your mind to rest if you're worried that Kim loves or thinks of me more than he does you, he doesn't; what we had is history, no more."
"I must admit the thought did cross my mind when I saw you last month, and his sudden outrage at my question asked in innocence. If there was something more between you, I'm sure he'd tell me. I think realizing he'll not be able to get around without a wheelchair now is beginning to filter into his consciousness now, and its' making Kim edgy."
"I am sure you're right, it's not something that crossed my mind, so I have no idea how he's coping, or if he will be able to cope as he was so active before the accident."
"I think this is behind his reluctance to accept Abir's offer; if he accepts the suggestion, he's given in to the truth."
"I agree; has Kim been given a timeline to reply to the job offer?"
"Not that I have Kim told me, I think Abir is waiting for Kim to give him a reply before he stands down. I think what is playing on Kim's mind is that he's always been on the sidelines when he was a writer."
"Yes, I got that sense when we were working, Kim's a great team player, but I never got the feeling he wanted to lead; even if his writing is provocative and edgy, like him. Do you think he's worried he'll lose that instinct if he becomes the editor?"
"Yes, I do, but I have the feeling that being the editor will add a new edge to his ability to see things other writers miss or avoid mentioning. From what I heard, you missed your vacation, Hannah; I am sorry to hear that."
"Thank you, Adriana, it is both a blessing and a curse; I do love the travel, but there are times when I wished I'd taken an office job with regular times."
Adriana giggled, then said, "Oh, yes, I can see you sitting at the desk typing orders from others from 9 to 5, Hannah."
Hannah laughed and commented, "Yes, me and regular hours wouldn't go well together I can tell you that; I'd be chomping at the bit to get free and live. Do you think Kim will take the job?"
"Despite his greatest fear - being in control - I think he'll take the job, Hannah. Before we had this disagreement, he was talking about the opportunity of being here in Israel as the voice of the state for the world. When he talked about that, I could sense an excitement in his voice."
Hannah had a moment's thought then she replied; "If he's thinking about the job, I have doubts that he'll accept it' if he wanted the opportunity, he'd have given Abir his answer by now."
Adriana stopped in her thoughts; she thought she knew what Kim was thinking, now she realized she had no real concept of what he had in mind; so she asked, "Why do you think that?"
"I can't tell you for sure, it's only a thought, but I got the impression from our time together that if he were offered Abir's position the idea of being in charge would cause Kim a lot of grief. He has no concerns about his work these days; he has come to accept that he is one of the best journalists at the paper; the problem arises from the idea of being a boss."
"I know, Kim has said as much to me; I thought he'd concluded that being the editor, and being here was the best way for him to continue working now he's disabled. I'll need to have a chat with Kim to find out what his intentions are, Hannah. I'll phone you later if I have some more information; Lehitraot, my good friend."
As Adriana put the phone in the cradle, she heard Hannah's reply, "Farvel."
Adriana put the phone in the cradle and walked back to the kitchen, Hannah's words running through her mind. She was thinking so intently on what Hannah had said, Adriana didn't hear Kim say, "Did Hannah ease your mind, love?"
When the words did register, she replied, "I'm sorry, love, I was thinking about what Hannah said about you; I never doubted your love for me, if that is what you mean. As I said before, I was curious about your friendship with her, that's all."
Kim hobbled to Adriana and hugged her; then he whispered in her ear" I apologize for being edgy just now; the offer from Abir is playing on my mind, and I'm getting nervous about making a choice that will impact greatly on our future."
Adriana smiled, then commented, "I can understand how you feel, you can feel assured what choice you make I will be with you all the way because I know that the choice you make will be the correct one."
"How can you be sure if I am not?"
"The reason is your indecision about the offer; if you weren't thinking of us, you would have chosen sooner than now, love."
"That's Hannah talking, isn't it."
"What if it is? I agree with her as she knows you almost as well as you know yourself from what the pair of you have told me."
"We did get close; it's hard not to get close when you realize the next bomb or bullet could be the last you hear. Now, I have another lady in my life and a new life to think over; Abir's offer is so inviting, and I can do it as well from here as I can from London, if not better. One thing is definite, that is whether I stay in Israel, or move to Europe, I won't be going back to London, there's too much anti-Semitism for me to feel safe in the UK."
"You said if you stay here, are you considering moving?"