Significant changes in his personal relationship with Carolyn Andrews, daughter of the head of MI6, and a budding relationship with a young lady from Oakville only add complications to the task at hand.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.51(d)|
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A Murder of Crowes
By Ed W. Nickerson
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2015 Ed W. Nickerson
All rights reserved.
ROME AIRPORT Friday, December 27th 1985, 8:15am
Reaching down for a pen from her purse saved Carolyn's life. The bullet flew above her hitting the old lady sitting next to her in the head, killing her instantly. For several minutes the world around her was chaotic.
Throwing herself to the ground, she slid under the seat she had been sitting on waiting to be called for boarding of the TWA flight to New York. The old lady's body down slipped next to Carolyn and with considerable reluctance she pulled the dead body close to her for protection.
There were constant sounds of gun shots and then the horrific sounds of hand grenades exploding. But what she would never forget was the screaming of men, women, and children as they cried out for their lives; all to no avail.
Her mind cleared. She reached into her purse, not for her pen but for her gun. Grasping it firmly and releasing the safety, she pushed the body in front of her away, rolled onto her stomach and listened. The shots were coming from in front of her and to her right. The men firing the weapons screamed in Arabic as they sprayed the area with bullets. When she heard shouting in Italian further to her right, she knew she had to move. Adjusting quickly to a kneeling position, she aimed in the direction of the Arabic voice to her left, stood up and opened fire. She got two shots away before the blast from the last hand grenade thrown that day blew her backwards, ripping open a gash in her left cheek and smashing the radius of her left arm. She covered her face with her right hand and collapsed in tears.
For two minutes she lay fighting back her tears as the noise around her changed to shouting and screaming for help, but no more gun fire.
When she opened her eyes the Italian police officer was assuring her that everything was going to be all right. She thanked him in Italian and calmly fainted.CHAPTER 2
Friday, December 27th 1985 The Queen's Head, Oakville 6:15pm
Ed shivered into the pub from the blowing snow and shook the snow off his down-filled winter jacket. It took him just a few seconds to warm up and feel comfortable in his 'second home'.
The pub was busy, very busy. People were enjoying the Christmas – New Years holidays and the friendly atmosphere of the local pub was in full swing. He made his way slowly to the bar greeting and shaking hands with a number of the happy crowd. Peter was working the bar and waved to Ed to acknowledge him and to let him know his Double Diamond was on its way. Ed removed his jacket and bent down to hang it on the hook under the counter. As he stood someone pushed in beside him. He stood and stepped back gently to let the person in.
She was tall, at least five-eight, with long blonde hair. Her slim figure made her look taller than what she was, and her red top and black skirt helped her stand out in the crowd.
"I know all about you," she said with authority. "I know where you live, where you work, what you read, who you hang out with; just about everything about you." She paused. "What do you have to say about that, Mister Edwin Crowe?"
Ed quickly looked around to see if someone was having fun at his behalf. If there was, he couldn't see them. He smiled to give himself time to think. She was very good looking. Her makeup was flawless and her eyes were stunning. It was difficult not look at them constantly.
Ed replied slowly. "You have very nice eyes, if you don't mind my saying so. I know that much about you. So how do you know so much about me, although I suspect I know the answer."
She took a slow sip of her tall drink. "Really? Pray tell?"
"I suspect you're a friend of Seana and Stephanie since only they and my mother know what I read. And I must say I doubt my mother would provide that kind of information to such a good looking young lady as you without telling me of my good luck."
"Really. Plus the fact that Seana and Stephanie knew I was coming down for a drink tonight. I usually ..."
"You usually only come down for a drink on Fridays and here I am." She smiled confidently.
"What a co-incidence." Ed said.
"No co-incidence, just good planning."
Peter delivered Ed's beer.
"On my tab please," she said to Peter. "And I'll have another one please."
Ed took a long sip of his beer. It tasted good, even better with her company. "So do I get to know your name?" he asked.
"Victoria," she replied.
"Just Victoria for now."
Ed nodded. "Your surname's a secret then is it?" He raised his eyebrows and grinned.
Victoria laughed. "Very clever, Edwin. I've heard all about your play on words."
Ed put down his beer and extended his right hand. "Victoria, it's a great pleasure to meet you. This is more than a pleasant surprise. Am I allowed to ask you why you want to know about me; a boring old travel agent?"
"Sure you are, but not here. I want you to tell me all about where you're sending your clients to escape this rather nasty winter. When you've finished your beer, no rush, I want to drive you to your apartment and we'll order out pizza." She leaned forward and for the first time spoke quietly. "No naughty stuff, Edwin, just a more private environment. Okay? Please?"
To his own surprise Ed took a drink of his beer before answering. "Well the majority of people are heading to Florida," he began.
Forty minutes later they were in Ed's apartment. Victoria wanted tea, not a glass of wine which Ed had offered. Tea seemed to make sense when he thought about it as he filled the kettle.
"Nice place," Victoria said, walking around the apartment, opening doors and cupboards as if she was thinking of buying it. She didn't ask to look around the bedrooms, but simply made herself at home. She checked the fridge and pantry, sniffing gently as she did.
"So from what the girls tell me, you're a pretty nice guy," she said, turning to face Ed. "Sounds like you're too nice sometimes."
"Well that's about as big an insult in a positive comment that I've ever heard. Anything else?"
"Hey, no insult intended," she added as she continued her review of the apartment. "Gotta tell the truth now, don't we?"
"Yes, we do," Ed agreed. "Milk, sugar?"
"Nope. I have to go. Sorry." She picked up her coat and headed for the door. She reached the door and turned. "Give me a quick kiss, Ed," and reaching into her purse she pulled out a piece of paper. "This is my number. Give me a call sometime if you want to."
Ed walked to her, gave her a quick kiss on the lips. She turned and left the apartment.
Ed stood for a moment wondering what had happened to his few quiet beers at The Queen's Head. Now he had a full pot of tea to himself. He shrugged, laughed to himself and poured himself a large cup of tea.
Thirty seconds later there was a soft knock on the door. He opened it to find Victoria standing with her coat over her arms and a guilty look on her face.
"Can I come in, Ed?" She spoke almost in a whisper. "I have an apology to make."
Ed ushered her in to the kitchen table, where she sat with her coat on her lap.
"Milk, sugar?" Ed asked
"Just milk please."
Ed used his best cup and went so far as to use a saucer. He placed it in front of her and sat. "I'm glad you came back," he smiled.
They drank their tea for several minutes before she spoke.
"That wasn't me, Ed. I'm sorry. You must think I'm stupid or something. The girls would never believe I spoke to you like that. Please don't tell them."
He nodded. "I promise. Now here's what I know about you, Victoria. You're obviously an Oakville lady. You know Seana and Stephanie, and the Jag you drove me home in was purchased in Oakville. It's not your car. I could tell that as soon as you started it; the seat and steering wheel went to a set position, which you had to adjust. That person is obviously taller than you. Since it is most unlikely you're married, I assume it's your dad's Jag. The license plate is PLK 001, and there's no V for Victoria in it." He shrugged. "Maybe the PL stands for Pretty Lady? You also struggled a bit with the manual gear change. So you live at home with your parents, in a very nice part of Oakville. You're single, well educated, and assuming you buy your own clothes, you have a very good job. You don't drink, at least not much. The second drink you ordered, 'the same again', was a virgin Caesar. I could keep guessing, but how am I doing so far?"
Now visibly more relaxed, she briefly applauded him. "Very good so far. Why don't we stop there?"
"Okay," Ed agreed, "but let me just say, if I may. You are a very pretty young lady, about twenty-three I'm assuming. Why you dropped in to see me I'll never understand, but thank you for doing so."
Victoria smile almost lit up the room. "You really are way too, too nice, Ed."
Ed stood. "Please stand up, pretty lady."
She stood, putting her coat aside. Ed slipped his golf shirt over his head and dropped it on the floor. "Lift your arms please," he asked.
"Oh my," Victoria gasped as she lifted her arms. "I don't know ..."
Ed quickly pulled her top over her head. She wore only a bra and immediately covered her breasts. "They're so small," she said, obviously embarrassed.
Ed held out his arms. "Hug?"
She took a quick step into his arms, feeling better that she was now covered. "Oh, my goodness. I can't believe we're doing this."
Ed held her tight around the waist waited a few moments then tickling her back as he did so, he reached up unclipped her bra, then quickly slipped his hand down to her waist and slipped his hand onto the top of her bum, just below the top of her panties.
"Oh, my God!" she giggled.
"Now, Victoria," Ed said slowly, "I just wanted you to know that I'm not way too nice." He pulled her toward him. "And that's not a cell phone you're feeling. Don't worry. I've made my point."
She held onto him enjoying the warmth of his body and his gentle touch on her back. She waited several moments before she spoke.
"Please close you eyes and turn around, Ed. That was very nice."
Ed did as he was told, taking a step away.
She thought for a moment, and convinced herself she should do it. She removed her bra and walked up to Ed's back, putting her arms around his body and held tight. "Okay, I'm not way too nice either. And that's not my bra you're feeling."
He could feel the hardness of her nipples against him, and the wonderful softness of her small breasts. "Thank you," was all he could think to say.
"Please stay as you are, Ed." She backed away from him, and slipped on her bra and top. "You can turn around now, not too-nice guy."
They took their seats at the kitchen table and finished their teas. They laughed at each other, not sure what to say.
"Here's my business card, Ed" she said, reaching into her purse.
Ed looked at her card: Victoria Kilgour, MBA, CLU.
"You're a life insurance agent," he said. "Wow, I'd never have guessed that."
"Don't worry; I'm not here to sell you anything." She paused. "But I do want you to know that I've heard so much about you, I just wanted to meet you. I know the girls weren't working tonight, so this was my chance. I certainly don't regret meeting you, Ed, but I do wish I hadn't put on that display in order to build up my courage." She stood. "Look I do have to go. Please give me a good night kiss, and phone me if you want to ... for a date, not to buy insurance."
They kissed quickly and gently at the door not putting their arms around each other, and then she left. They both knew any longer a kiss would have turned into something they both would have enjoyed, but may have regretted the next morning.CHAPTER 3
Saturday, Dec 28th 1985 The next morning 8:15 am
Ed turned off the television at the gentle knock on the door. Intuitively he knew it was Victoria, and when he opened the door she stood smiling with two cups of Tim Hortons coffee. "Coffee with a smile," she said walking in and placing the cups on the kitchen table. She wore a light green business suit under her winter coat. She took off her coat and looked around. "You don't have a guest do you?"
"Yes, she's just getting dressed in my bedroom," he lied with a laugh. "No, of course I don't have a guest, except you that is. So how did you get through the security? They're usually rather sticky on letting people in without being buzzed in."
"Two cups of hot coffee and a nice smile gets you a long way – with men that is." She gave him the smile.
"Ha, so the song's accurate then; city girls ... open doors with just a smile?"
"It happens," she agreed. "But it's the wink that really works."
He picked up his coffee and they sat. "To what do I owe this special visit from my new friend?"
She reached into her purse, removing a sheet of paper and a pen. "I would like you to answer some questions for me on this application. Okay?"
Ed raised his eyebrows in interest. "Life insurance?"
"Nope." She kept a straight face.
"Okay, I give up."
Making sure she was looking at him eye to eye, she gave him a sly wink. "It's an application for consideration of boy-friend status."
He almost spilled his hot coffee as he chuckled. "A what?"
"You heard me. Are you interested? Yes or no?"
"Yes," he nodded.
"Okay, I know all the basic stuff; name, age, sex – oops, gender, occupation, etc. You're a non-smoker, correct?"
"Absolutely." He leaned back in his chair; this was going to be fun.
"Ever been married?"
Ed cleared his throat to give himself a second to think. "Well technically you cannot be single having ever been married. If one has been previously married, then one's status would have to be divorced, separated, or widower."
Keeping her eyes directly on his, she sipped on her coffee. "Ever been married?" she asked again.
She gave him the slightest of nods and took another sip of coffee.
"Ever spent a honeymoon in Paris?"
His head rolled back and he looked for help on the ceiling. "Oh shit," he muttered.
"Is that your answer, Mr. Crowe? 'Oh shit' I mean."
He couldn't look her straight in the eyes any longer. He closed his eyes to think.
"Take your time, Mr. Crowe. I might ask for your autograph, what with you being a T.V. personality and all."
"There are some limitations involved here, Victoria. Why don't you tell me what you know?"
She was referencing the operation he had worked on the previous September in his role as a consultant with British Secret Service – MI6. Operation Remembrance's goal was to bring to light the involvement of the French Vichy government's active role during the Second World War in arresting and sending French citizens to German Concentration Camps, where thousands died in the gas chambers. Ed's role was to spend his 'honeymoon' in Paris with CSIS operative Pat Weston. The operation was more successful than anyone had imagined, resulting in television newscasts around the world of the fights that erupted in Paris as local skinheads fought hand to hand with Ed, Pat and the more moderate citizens of Paris.
Vicky spoke slowly. "My father has always been a worrier about me, Ed, and even more so after a recent major event that disturbed me. When he heard about you from Seana and Stephanie, he was duly impressed. Last week I let him know I planned on meeting up with you as a friend of a friend ... well he decided to check up on you." She coughed to clear her throat and let the message sink in. "My father has a lot of friends in many high places, and it wasn't difficult for him to obtain a copy of the news-piece from the CBC about you and your, shall we say, honeymoon?"
"I er ..." Ed tried.
Victoria interrupted "Now to be honest with you, he thought it was marvelous and wants to meet you - if I so choose."
"Assuming I pass the test as a potential boy-friend."
She gave him a wink. "Yes, assuming you pass the test. Just one more question."
"Do you want me to explain a little about Paris ... so to speak?"
"Up to you, Ed. I know you're not married. I just wanted you to know what I know."
"The lady in the news piece is a friend of mine, and is engaged to my best friend. He lives in London, England, and she lives in Ottawa."
"I know. She's a civil servant, correct?"
Ed nodded. "Yes. She works for Export Development Canada."
"Sure she does, Ed. Now my final question. Do you have a girlfriend? That's an easy question I hope."
"Sure, that's easy," he muttered. "Let me think."
Victoria put down her pen, picked up her coffee and drained it. "Take your time. I've got all day." She paused. "Actually, I don't. My parents and I are leaving for a cruise this afternoon, a ten-day Caribbean. The limo is picking us up at four this after-noon." She looked at her watch. "So you've got about five hours before I have to leave. Is that long enough?"
"Hey, great," Ed said with enthusiasm. "Which cruise line?"
"Do you have a girl-friend?" She folded her arms across her chest and sat back in the chair.
"There is a special lady in my life, Victoria. Very special in fact. She lives in England. I plan on asking her to marry me. I can honestly tell you I have no idea what she will say. If 'yes', we will marry. If 'no', then I ... I don't know."
Excerpted from A Murder of Crowes by Ed W. Nickerson. Copyright © 2015 Ed W. Nickerson. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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