Ilai Areli is the director of criminal intelligence for the largest civilian intelligence agency in Toronto, Canada. At age thirty, he is a self-made man with a promising career, supportive friends, and a loving wife. Unable to meet the demanding sacrifices his new promotion entails, his life spirals out of control, leading him to lose everything that he holds dear.
At the request of his agency to attend a meeting with the Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Dominican Republic, Ilai leaves Toronto on a business trip in hopes of escaping what he’s lost.
Caught between letting go of his pride and facing the reality of his situation, he is completely unaware that an unforeseen meeting with a pregnant impoverished woman in the slums of Puerto Plata is about to remind him of life’s meaning and change the course of his life forever.
Ilai and Shia meet when life’s challenges seem too difficult to bear, but what begins on that sunny afternoon transcends into their unpredictable futures, where only love, fulfillment, sacrifice, and the will to overcome remain.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)|
Read an Excerpt
It seemed as though the seasons changed overnight. The leaves outside made a crisp, crackling noise, signaling signs of winter. The air in Ilai's room was bitter as he pulled the white, freshly laundered sheets up to his nose. Sarah must have turned down the heat throughout the night. How will this day unfold?
It was his first day as director of criminal intelligence for the largest civilian security intelligence agency in Toronto. The new promotion elated him, and he reveled in his accomplishments. At age thirty, Ilai was a self-made man. With a beautiful home, incredible job, and loving wife, his life was the backdrop of a quintessential successful man. He and his wife, Sarah, met in high school, young, innocent, and full of ambition. Ilai brought to mind the first time he had ever laid eyes on her.
It was the first day of high school, ninth grade, and all new students assembled in the gym for a welcome assembly. Everyone bumped shoulders on his or her way into the gym. Backpacks whipped each other when squeezing through the narrow gymnasium door. Students all sat in the bleachers, while the teachers assembled and lined the back wall of the gym, facing the enormous crowd of precarious students.
The principal spoke, welcoming all newcomers to Middleton. Then Ilai caught a glimpse. Sarah turned slightly, surveying the crowd behind her. Her hair stretched halfway down her back and was tied up with a few, unnoticeable bobby pins. Ilai noticed her eyes and their vibrant color, and the image of a dwarf chameleon flashed before his imagination, green. The color changed, depending on the season. He then observed her lips, glossy and wet. Gosh, she was gorgeous.
They shared law class together, and the debates brought out Sarah's competitive spirit, especially the topic of euthanasia. She spoke with a diplomatic air, presenting various arguments on the topic without judgment. Sarah was pragmatic, focused, and fervent. She would have been an incredible businesswoman, if only that were her passion. Ilai couldn't resist her.
But it wasn't until grade ten that Ilai mustered up the courage to finally approach her. In the cafeteria, Ilai marched over to Sarah's table and examined her lunch, smoked salmon, hummus, cucumbers, and carrots.
Sarah raised her eyebrows. Her eyes widened with curiosity. "Hello," she said. "You're Ilai, right?"
"Yeah, and you're Sarah?"
"You got it." She was then silent.
Ilai spoke again, trying to appease himself, "What classes are you taking this year?"
"Well, one of them is the same as you, of course, law. I also have math in the morning, followed by philosophy, science, and gym in the afternoon."
"Right. What's your favorite subject?"
"Law, but I took that last year with you." The sarcasm in her voice made Ilai uneasy.
"Of course. Uh, so what are you doing later?"
"You mean after school?"
"I have soccer practice."
"Oh, okay, and then ..."
"And then I'm going home."
"Well, I guess I'll see you around?"
"I guess you will." She smiled.
This was the beginning of it all. A brief cafeteria conversation in grade ten turned into semiformal, grade twelve graduation. And all throughout university, Sarah and Ilai were inseparable. Then they were wed.
Sarah now worked as an intelligence analyst for Public Safety Canada.
Their love for photography attracted them to each other during their younger years, but ultimately their enduring friendship was a continued force at the forefront of their marriage and seemed to protect and strengthen the more challenging times, hardships that most married couples experienced.
Ilai and Sarah connected, and their first conversation revealed the true essence of her character. Strong, compassionate, and gracious, she was also the sexiest, classiest woman on this earth. But most importantly, Sarah understood Ilai and the man he was becoming. Ilai needed a supportive partner who challenged him, one who stood up to him when he was wrong. Sarah was that woman.
"Good morning, honey," she pleasantly whispered.
Ilai rolled over and ran his fingers through her long, dark, curly hair. Her discerning green eyes comfortably rested on Ilai's. Her gaze was intense. Nothing could be hidden from her.
Sarah was an intellectual who thrived on expanding her perspectives of people, culture, religion, ways of living, and the world. Her introspective nature was admirable. She was introverted; Ilai was extroverted. It worked.
"You're nervous," she remarked.
Ilai's new job entailed big responsibilities. Many people relied on him, and he wondered if he could handle the pressure. Gabe was Ilai's director of communications, and Anna was Ilai's secretary. Committed and efficient. Gabe, Anna, and Sarah were a strong support system, but he knew that, as director of the criminal intelligence unit, lots of support would need to be garnered from all his staff, not only Gabe and Anna.
Ilai gently kissed Sarah on the forehead, inhaling the rose-scented soap that she used every evening to wash her face before going to bed.
"I'm anticipating how the day will play out," Ilai said, hoping to generate a supportive response from his wife.
Sarah smiled. "You're an incredible man, Ilai. You won't allow yourself to let others down."
Sarah always knew what to say and was most often right when Ilai looked to her for advice. But her encouragement didn't remove the knots from his stomach. Sarah kissed him again on the forehead before slipping out of bed and releasing her white, silk housecoat from the closet. Ilai watched her as she daintily tied the sash around the side of her waist and put on her slippers.
"I'm going to make breakfast," she said as she exited the room.
Turning on the taps in the shower, Ilai jumped. The water was cool and refreshing. The drops trickled down his forearms as he reached for the bottle's lid. Pumping the shampoo into his palms, he began to work up a lather, adding water to the forming mousse in his hands. He quickly rubbed it in to his hair and scrubbed around the ears, making sure fresh soap filled every crevasse. He tilted his head back and forth as he turned toward the showerhead. The water entered his eardrums, blocking out all surrounding noise. Bam. Bam.
Sarah hates eating cold eggs, he thought as he picked up his showering pace.
The aroma of eggs and bacon filled the kitchen as Ilai entered. Sarah was grinding the coffee. The grinder pulsated in their cozy kitchen and somewhat irritated him as he sat down and speedily shoveled down his breakfast. Sarah tapped the fresh grounds of coffee into a silver can and placed it on the counter before sitting down. Her pace of eating was slower than Ilai's, as she knew that she had thirty minutes after he left to continue preparing to leave for work.
Ilai downed a glass and glanced out the large front window to see if his best friend, Gabe, had pulled up. The window was foggy. It would be a cold day.
Gabe and Ilai rode together to work every morning and usually discussed their plans for the unit and how they would resolve them. They also bounced around some of the unit's current problems. Gabe, the director of communications, was the most dependable employee in the office. Without him, Ilai would be lost. Gabe was Ilai's right-hand man, and it always seemed to be that way since they attended grade school together. Gabe and Ilai were boThenrolled in the master's in global affairs program at the University of Toronto. Gabe was brilliant and kept Ilai on track, although his new position would present new hurdles.
As Ilai wandered back to his room, he heard the engine of Gabe's black Lexus out front. Vroom. Vroom. Ilai checked his watch. Eight thirty. Right on time. He smirked.
Ilai hurriedly buttoned up his crisp, white shirt, which Sarah had ironed that morning, and glanced at himself in the mirror. He leaned forward and examined the bags around his eyes. His blue eyes looked darker than usual against his damp, freshly washed chocolate brown hair. Perhaps the lighting in the room is dimmer than usual. Fight-or-flight does in fact induce pupil dilation, he reasoned, forewarning that, as the days progressed, his body would be under immense pressure. Ilai stood tall and inhaled, puffing out his chest. He turned to the side, examining his tall and slim frame. He took pride in his physique.
Sarah handed Ilai his briefcase as he scurried to the front door. She always made sure Ilai was out the door first. Because her scheduled was more flexible, she would leave for work at nine.
Sarah looked at her husband with concern in her eyes, wondering if this new promotion were the right decision for Ilai and their future together. She quickly handed him his work jacket, hoping that her micro expressions wouldn't be noticed, but Ilai did. He always did. She worried about whether or not his new job would keep him from other responsibilities and priorities, like spending time with her.
Ilai quickly diverted his attention to getting out the front door to Gabe's car, not wanting Gabe to wait on him. Sarah wrapped her warm arm around the back of his neck, scratching him with her nails as she kissed him gently on the lips. Ilai inhaled her J'adore perfume.
"You'll do great," she reassured him.
In the corner of his eye, Ilai caught a glimpse of Gabe's anxious expression as he waited in the car. The brisk wind forced open the front door as he turned the knob. Whoosh. Sarah waved, as to assure him that she would close the door after him, a morning routine, even prior to Ilai's promotion.
Gabe swung open the passenger door as Ilai approached his black, shiny Lexus. "Good mornin', champ. Ready for your first day as director?"
"Yes," Ilai speculated if he were in fact ready.
Today will be a good indication of how my days will unfold, or would it? Ilai knew the first day in any job was merely administrative, but his nervousness was tempered by the overwhelming feeling of excitement he had about reorganizing the unit and meeting his new staff members. Many looked up to him, and everyone in the office, especially Gabe, noticed his hard work prior to being promoted.
"Don't worry. Everything will be fine," Gabe said with full confidence. "You'll see. After all, what could go wrong when you have a director like me to support you?"
Gabe flashed his million-dollar smile, inherited from his father, a well-known real estate agent in Toronto. Upon closing deals, Gabe's father would reinforce his slogan, "Stewardship with a smile." It was his motto, and Gabe was unconsciously carrying on his father's tradition.
"Everything will be fine. I'm just a little nervous." Ilai motioned, trying to appear put together.
"You've never let anyone down. Don't worry. Trust me. We'll have enough to worry about by the time we get to work. Just do what you do."
"I know." Ilai's voice was shaky.
Gabe knew exactly how Ilai was feeling. After all, they had been friends since grade school. Ilai could never manage to hide anything from Gabe. Whether something was going on, either personally or professionally, Gabe seemed to pick up on his emotional state and that of everyone in the office. He possessed an inner intuitiveness that others refused to delve into.
The car ride was quiet. Ilai knew that Gabe respected the silence so they could collect their thoughts and plans for the day. Gabe knew that Ilai and he had a lot of work ahead of them, and the car ride to work was an opportunity for them to ponder on what lied ahead.
Ilai thought about Sarah and her unequivocal confidence in him and instantly felt uplifted. Closing his eyes, Ilai remembered their first dance on a veranda.
The breeze was picking up and tickled the back of Sarah's legs. She then leaned into him for warmth, and Ilai turned his back to face the fiery wind. Her loose bangs framed her face, reminding him of picture frames and how one must choose the perfect color, texture, and size to frame a well-crafted painting. Her bare collarbone and shoulders exposed her alabaster skin. That night, Sarah had whispered to Ilai that he was the man for her, and that was it.
Every now and then, Ilai could smell her J'adore, especially during the car rides to work after Sarah spritzed the back of her ears, wrists, and neck in the mornings. Gabe often commented that he could smell her perfume on Ilai throughout the day. Sarah hadn't changed her choice of perfume for years and used one bottle per year. Having been married for nine years now, she would have received nine bottles from Ilai by now.
The decision to put their careers first was evident early on in their marriage. Sarah was annoyed with the obsession in North American culture of having kids at such an early age. Why were people having children so young? Where is this pressure to have children at such a ripe age coming from? European culture was often quoted and how men and women married in their early to mid-thirties and had children in their late thirties.
Sarah despised societal pressure, expectations, and conformism. She was not a conformist in the least, one of the reasons why Ilai had been so taken aback by her. The hope of having children later on in their lives was a joint plan, their dream to one day have children together.
The thought of this memory brought peace to Ilai's heart, knowing that Sarah didn't demand anything from him other than for him to remain open, transparent, and willing in their marriage.
Ilai gazed out the car window and watched the passersby, women dressed in long, dark coats and scarves loosely wrapped around their necks. Most of the men wore gray or navy blue suits and carried briefcases. The expressions on their faces bemused him. Some appeared overworked; others were excited to start their day.
The streets of Toronto were bustling with people, frantically heading to work. The streetcar squealed by as it stopped on the rails next to Gabe's Lexus to let the Toronto citizens on. Screech.
Why are city bus drivers so miserable? Ilai watched the clouds of cold breath form in the air as people spoke and eyed the sky, noticing the rapid increase in the construction of skyscrapers throughout the years. There seemed to be a new condominium or apartment building being built every week.
They passed the intersection of Yonge and Bloor, one of the busiest intersections in the city. Toronto was home to every clique imaginable: jocks, hipsters, nerds, thespians, preps, rockers, outsiders, elite, white collar, blue collar, and pink collar. Why do people love Toronto? Ilai contemplated. But he knew the answer and would jump to respond to tourists' inquiries into why Toronto was becoming such an appealing city to settle down in.
It was the real sense of equality, individual rights, and freedoms. People felt accepted in Toronto, regardless of their race, ethnicity, education, occupation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or otherwise. And for Ilai, that was the way it should be. Everyone must feel accepted and included.
Ilai rolled down the window and peered at slots of retail shops, restaurants, boutiques, bars, and hotels lining the sidewalks. Thousands upon thousands of businesses. How did they all survive in such a competitive metropolis? he wondered in disbelief.
The smell of exhaust permeated Ilai's nostrils. As he rolled up the window, the noisy traffic dissipated in the background.
Gabe enthusiastically interrupted Ilai's preoccupation, "So how's Sarah?" he modestly questioned.
"She's well," Ilai remarked.
"You're very lucky to have her, ya know. She's an incredible woman. Intelligent. Beautiful. She'd do anything for you. Anything."
Ilai acknowledged with a nod and knew Gabe was right. Sarah was his greatest supporter. She was a woman of integrity and didn't fear speaking up when others were in the wrong. Her friends knew it too and would often broadcast her deep-seated sense of social justice. It was always applied to her professional life. She loved helping people — the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. Sarah defended people's dignity and made sure others knew that.
Gabe and Ilai pulled into the large parking lot of their unit. It was eight thirty in the morning. The parking lot was already packed with cars, a bevy of Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, and Rolls-Royce represented. Consulting firms, investment companies, and law firms filled their building. Big money, Ilai thought. Their office was higher up, the twenty-third floor, which everyone loved. The view was incredible.
Excerpted from "The Faded Yellow Envelope"
Copyright © 2017 Julianna Psarris.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 A Promotion, 1,
Chapter 2 Senator Lewis, 16,
Chapter 3 Scotch on the Rocks, 25,
Chapter 4 Sarah's Gift, 41,
Chapter 5 A Special Rendezvous, 57,
Chapter 6 Darkness, 74,
Chapter 7 Meeting the Ministers, 82,
Chapter 8 Concon, 91,
Chapter 9 Writing Shia, 108,
Chapter 10 Unexpected News, 124,
Chapter 11 Gabe's Decision, 139,
Chapter 12 Changes, 152,
Chapter 13 The Faded Yellow Envelope, 163,
Chapter 14 The First Stroke, 170,
About the Author, 177,