By Judith Copek -- Romantic Suspense, 380 pages
Cover art by Pat Evans; photo provided by Judith Copek
A glamorous high-tech consultant has agreed to retrieve state-of-the art software in East Germany with a colleague and ex-lover who keeps her in the dark. As she navigates a landscape of sociopaths and unrehabilitated Stasi, Zara realizes she's in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man and no exit strategy.
“When are we supposed to leave for that island?” I asked.
“Soon.” Had he heard the doubt in my voice? T.K. lit a cigarette and inhaled the smoke. “Now tell me what’s on your mind. Is your divorce final?”
“Very final.” I paused to pick my words. “Our split hurt Chloe more than Taylor or me.”
I took a deep breath. “I tried to resign on Monday.” My story came out in a rush of words. “I shouldn’t be here, T.K. I have a little girl who needs me. I need to find a job without travel. And now this murder has me freaked out. I don’t want to get involved in something risky.”
I expected T.K. to react with his typical “oh shit!” and maybe even sympathize or suggest a way out, but he continued to smoke without looking at me.
In a moment I would be weeping. “I really can’t talk about this anymore,” I said, gulping back my tears.
He remained silent. His head was down, and I couldn’t see his face, but I didn’t think my sorrowful confession had pleased him.
“What’s going on in your life?” I asked when he didn’t offer so much as a consoling word.
“Once upon a time there was a pretty woman in Brussels. But since I’m not living there anymore—Zara, did you think I wouldn’t ever wise up to your little tricks on that project last summer? You made me look like an ass.”
“Sorry,” I said, dreading the finger pointing and recriminations. We were both remembering the incident last summer in Berlin. I didn’t believe T.K. wanted to re-hash it any more than I did.
He had spoken in an even voice, and his eyes warned: don’t pull any more stunts like that. Maybe he did carry a grudge.
“We’re colleagues now,” I assured him.
“Understood,” he said. He threw down his cigarette and stood up. I stood, too. Swamped by waves of jet lag, I wanted to collapse and sleep for days. Alone.