'He is known as the Invisible Man, and your job is to make him visible to us.'
We were dining in the Bel-Etage restaurant of the Sofitel Hotel in Zurich on tender roasted veal with potato pancakes, not a great distance, but several centuries in amenities, away from the north African country of Bulla Regia bordering the Mediterranean.
'But why the need for this sort of operation?' I asked. I waved away the stiff-carriage waiter who had stepped forward from the shadows and refilled Sam Winterberry's wine glass the instant it had been drained and who had then offered to top off my half-filled glass. I was taking my liquor very lightly these days. I was still having headaches. I hadn't been told why the procedure I'd undergone was necessary until just now.
'Are you all right, Guy?' Winterberry asked, his face full of concern. Winterberry always knew the proper expression to show in public. No doubt that had been part of his Agency training back in the day.
'Yes, why do you ask?'
'You winced and touched the spot. Don't worry, the occasional pain and reminder will pass in time. But you do need to be aware you are touching it and not draw attention to it in the meantime.'
'Oh, sorry,' I said. 'I haven't had the formal classes, you know. But, again, why the need for this sort of operation, and why me? This could take years. And he's the president of the country. Surely - '
'Yes, it could take years, but we are hoping it won't,' Winterberry answered the last question first. He paused to take a long swig on his wine, which drew a smile; Sam loved good wine. In fact he was reveling in the whole Sofitel experience and the looks he gave me reminded me of life with Sam Winterberry when he was on a high.
'But even if it takes years,' he continued, 'this is an operation that is worth it. As for why it's not a direct sanction, first, the Lieutenant is a wary one - and a thus far very successfully wary one. He moves constantly, never spends more than one night in a single location, and there is no pattern to his movements. Second, we are planning something much more subtle than a simple sanction. We want to control what follows. His nationalization of the oil companies has made quite clear that some more complex response is needed here.'
There were a few moments of silence as Winterberry savored his tender veal in its own gravy and while I contemplated the target. He was known as the Lieutenant because that was what he was when he miraculously mobilized the Bulla Regia armed forces to overthrow the decadent and decaying monarchy and set the country on the path of his own personal brand of mixed socialism and dictatorship. The Western world had called him mad and had ostracized him. He, in turn, had nationalized all of the Western holdings in a country that was floating on oil and had proven himself not too mad to have survived, standing alone against the pressure of the Western world, for more than a decade now.
'And why me?' I repeated an unanswered question.
'Why you? Because you can be inserted easily. We have a position available as professor of Arabic literature for you at the national university in Altiburos, and your true credentials take you back to your Ph.D. in literature at Canada's Calgary University. It was a mere hop, skip, and jump to documenting you as a Canadian citizen. Of all the Western nations, only Canada, which had no companies operating in Bulla Regia to nationalize, is still on good terms with the government there.'
Winterberry looked down at his plate and started to cut up another bite of veal. He was looking entirely too pleased with himself, though.
'Is that it? Is that the only reason?'
'Of course it's not the only reason, dear boy. I'm here; this is one of my Candy Store operations. You were chosen because the Lieutenant likes his men blond and young and submissive. And I can see his point.'
The look Winterberry gave me was quite enough to tell me that my engagement calendar was booked for the night.
Sam Winterberry wasn't one of my favorite people. By far. I could have had an entirely different life if it had not been for Sam Winterberry. I had been young and idealistic and had steeped myself in Arabic literature and culture - and, unfortunately politics - in my graduate years in Calgary. I had been judged brilliant, the youngest man ever to have reached the doctorate level at the university. And I had gone to school in Canada rather than the United States because I wanted my education to be as free of prejudice as possible. That too was probably a mistake. I found myself taken up with a group of Arab students who pushed the envelope beyond the philosophical and who actually included the nucleus of a cell of terrorists biding their time and laying in wait for a plan and direction to strike a blow for Islam in the United States.
I never was drawn into this cell - although in time there might have been an offer. In my idealism, I was attracted to what they said in public. I, of course, had no idea what they were planning in private. So I floated around the periphery of this group and became close to a few of the cell members.
One of the cell members was fiery and handsome, dark, hirsute, and built like the seasoned soldier that he really was. He was older than most of the others, and clearly a leader and an initiator and risk taker. Ahmed paid considerable attention to me, at first because of our professed shared love of Arabic literature. He was a persuasive conversationalist and spoke in honey-toned poetry. And one night when I was half drunk, he pulled me down on his bed and stretched all along the length of my body, touching me closely everywhere and showing me that he wanted me by the hardness between his legs. He kissed me and fondled my body with his soft hands and whispered sweet poetry to me. And when he put his hand between my thighs and coaxed me to open for him, I did, with a sigh, despite my fears. And when he slowly pushed inside me, he covered my mouth with his and kissed away my cry of pain and shame as he unburdened me of my virginity. As the pain subsided and he began to move inside me, I moved with him, willingly, with him chanting his poetry in rhythm to the stroking of his cock inside me and to the pattern of my panting and moaning. Ahmed opened the gates of heaven to me with a flood of love that left me with no regrets and no doubts about what I was and what I wanted.
I never knew what happened to the cell, but I learned soon enough what Ahmed was. Not only was he a government plant in the cell, but he also was a recruiter for a special unit of the Agency informally called the Candy Shore, headed by none other than Sam Winterberry. On the same night I had all of my doubts about my sexuality and my preferences wiped away, I was compromised and recruited into the world of intelligence. And not just the surface world, but into one of its most closely guarded secrets - the existence of a unit that gained intelligence through sex.
And here I was, a world and three years away from my innocent exuberance in Calgary, the excellent meal now finished, nibbling on the last of the chocolate torte and superior-blend coffee.
Winterberry delicately patted his lips with a fine white linen napkin and turned a smile on me.
'Now, there are a few more details we should talk about with a bit more privacy.'
I looked around the dimly lit restaurant with the widely spaced tables. I couldn't think of any place with more privacy than this. But, looking at Winterberry's smile, I guess I could.
'Shall we adjourn to my hotel room?' Winterberry asked. But I knew it wasn't a question.
When we were in his room, three flights up in the hotel, he turned and, in a matter-of-fact voice said, 'Now, sweet Guy, would you please disrobe and sit on the edge of the bed over there.'
I sucked his cock as he stood before me at the bed and gave him what he wanted. But I kept it on an edge, where he knew it was all mechanical, that I didn't really want him. And I tried to maintain the same tone when he spread my legs and held them out under his arms and thrust inside me. But as he began to pump and thicken and mined ever more deeply in my channel, my instincts gave way and I began to move my hips with him and to pant and moan, and his heavy breathing and groans had a synergistic effect on me. And soon we were fucking in earnest, me wanting it as much as he did. Maybe more. I couldn't help myself. I loved a man's cock churning inside me.
But Sam Winterberry is a cruel lover, and he had noted how hard I'd tried to stay mechanical with him. And he knew what I was, what I was unable to stay away from. As I was about to ejaculate, he pulled out of me and held me tight, not letting me go over the edge.
'Please, Sam,' I panted.
'Please what, Guy?'
'Please, oh please.'
'Say it, Guy.'
I gritted my teeth. 'Please, Sam, please finish me. Fuck me. Ahhhhhh.' He slid deep inside me again and began to pump, once again showing me who was boss.
I came and he moved as to pull out of me, roll off his condom, and ejaculate on my belly, but I cried out, 'No, please. Inside me, please.'
And, with a shudder of pleasure, he continued pumping until he had filled the bulb of his condom deep inside me. I knew that I had pleased him - once again.
There being no better time than that moment, as we were both calming our breath, I said. 'My parents are both dead, Sam. Did you know that?'
'No, I did not,' he warily answered.
'And it's been a long time since that business with the terrorist cell in Calgary. And anything coming out of that now would be pretty fuzzy, you know - especially with what I might have to say about what transpired afterward if push came to shove.'
'What are you saying, Guy?' Winterberry asked in a low, nervous voice.
'I'm saying that I'll do this operation for you, but when it's over - if it's successfully concluded - I want to ask a favor of you that you will pledge now to honor.'
There was a slight pause, but then Winterberry answered wearily, 'If you must.'
At that moment, I think we both knew what my request would be. I had done quite enough for the nation.
* * * *
'Have you seen the Roman ruins on the cliffs of Albia yet, professor?'
It had been asked innocently enough, but I hoped it meant some progress was being made. I'd been teaching Arabic literature at the national university in Bulla Regia's capital city of Altiburos for some four months now, and as hard as I was trying, progress had seemed to be slow.
When Winterberry had briefed me, he had given me a list of names of young men students at the university who both would be interested in what I had to offer - beyond the instruction in Arabic literature - and who could give me a natural entrée to the ultraprivate Foxes Den club near the government officials' residential enclave, the very secret place where the well-heeled and powerful men of Bulla Regia went to meet other men. The ultimate target here was the army marshal General Iken ibn Tariq, who was considered to be as closely associated with the Lieutenant, Mezian al-Masmud, as anyone in Bella Regia could be.
Yunes ibn Afalku, one of the pampered sons of the ruling class, which still managed to rule society despite the Lieutenant's so-called socialist revolution, was one of the students in my Arabic literature class. He also was on my list of intermediary targets. He was maybe four years younger than I was, one of the older students. He had already served his army duty and was in extremely fit shape. He was a national-level bodybuilder, narcissistic to an extreme degree, and thus, of course, a name on my list. And he dabbled in Arabic literature. He wasn't a full-time university student; he had just signed up for my class because he had accompanied his younger brother to orientation and had talked with me over a punchbowl.
I knew from the outset he was interested in me, and he was the main mark I was working on. But it took me four months to prime him to ask me this question.
'No, Yunes. I haven't seen the ruins. I would love to, though. I just haven't had the chance to go outside the city. Visitors like me are fairly closely watched here.'
'No one I'm with is watched,' Yunes said. 'And I have a van. I'd be pleased to show you the Roman site.'
The mention of the van was not lost on me, although I assumed Yunes thought he was being clever. I'd seen Yunes drive onto campus. He drove a Mercedes sports coupe.
I was not surprised to find that the van had no windows in the back. Yunes drove it up to the edge of a cliff, within the outer reaches of the perimeter of a small, ancient Roman city colony that hadn't really had time to blossom before the local, highly warlike tribal bands had wiped it out. More of the old city ruins lay at the base of the cliff, where there had once been a small harbor reaching out into the Mediterranean. From up here, looking out of the front windshield of the van, I could see the tops of the crumbled stone of the protecting wings of the manmade harbor quay under the surface of the water. A light rain squall was going through, and Yunes suggested we wait in the van until it passed.
I toyed with the idea briefly that Yunes represented such ingrained power in Bulla Regia society that he could conjure up a convenient rain squall on demand.
'Are you enjoying the Arabic literature class, Yunes?' I asked.
'Yes, very much so, professor. But tell me, do you not read the books of Ali Ghanem, Albert Cossery, and Rachid Boudjedra? Why have you not included their books in the course?'
There it was, the opening, checking me out. All three of these Arabic-theme authors wrote homoerotica.
'Yes, I have read Ghanem's Seven-Headed Serpent and Cossery's Proud Beggars and Boudjedra's The Great Repudiation.'
'And enjoyed them?'
'Yes, yes, of course, I found such literature very . . . compelling.'
Yunes turned his torso toward me and, seemingly inadvertently, put a hand on my knee.
'But then why not include these in your course?'
I put my hand on top of his and slid them both up my thigh and onto my basket. Yunes took in a deep breath.
'Do you really think the authorities would permit me to teach those authors, Yunes? But haven't you noticed that I do include Naguib Mahfouz's Midaq Alley and Sugar Street in the curriculum. He is just too famous for the authorities to censure. Haven't you read those? There are passages in those that remind me of you when I read them.'
'You find me attractive, professor?'
'Yes, very much so,' I answered. 'Can't you feel that through your hand?' And, indeed, I had managed to harden up for him nicely. 'I have watched you in class. I think you must be a very powerful, forceful man. But you have seemed a bit shy. I would have thought you a man who saw what he wanted and took it.'
I knew of no quicker way to spur an Arabic man to action. And it worked a charm.
I sucked Yunes's cock with him turned to me in the driver's seat and kneeling in the seat and me leaning over him and raising and lowering my mouth on his erect tool while he moaned and controlled my head with hands buried in my hair. For a brief moment I worried that a hand would stray to the nape of my neck, but it did not do so - and even if it had, I'm sure he was too preoccupied with my expert blow job to find anything amiss.
After he had come, we moved to the back of the van, which he had prepared with thick oriental carpeting, and we stripped and he laid me on my back and covered my body with caresses and kisses and paid considerable attention to my cock, balls, and hole while he regained his youthful virility. I thrilled at the feel of the firmness of his cut muscles, and I ran my trembling hands over his chest and torso and arched my back and gave a welcoming roar of genuine delight as he spread my legs, wedged his knees under my butt cheeks, thrust himself deep inside me, and began to pump hard.
We met frequently in my apartment thereafter for about a month until I was sure he was besotted and would do whatever I wanted him to.
'Have you heard of the Fox Den club?' I asked one afternoon as I lay inside his embrace, my back to his front, and his cock churning slowly and deeply inside me.
'Yes,' he answered with a grunt.
'I think I would like to go there. Do you happen to know anyone who can get us in?'
'Yes,' he answered. 'I can; I'm a member.'
I, of course, already knew that.
On the third visit to the club, my next target, General Iken ibn Tariq, made his move. He had been there during our previous two visits too, but during the first visit he and I had only exchanged meaningful looks across a dimly lit room. During the second visit, he invited us to his table, where he sat, with two bulky bodyguards standing at attention behind him.
Yunes had not been pleased at the invitation to the general's table, and this was probably the touchiest part of my assignment, where I had to continue to please Yunes while beguiling the general. Somehow I managed.
While we were chatting and the general was, rather professionally, interrogating me with a friendly smile on exactly who I was and ever had been and what I was doing in his country, I asked him if he was a reader of Arabic literature.
'No, my reading is other worldly, Professor Breeden,' he answered. 'Have you perhaps heard of Henry Spenser Ashbee or Ulrike Heider or Trevor Jacques?'
I could tell that Yunes was out of the 'know' here and, thankfully, saw that his attention was drawn to the sex scene going on on the stage, a quite tall and bulky Bulgarian stuffing himself into a small Nubian in a particularly flexible position.
'Yes, yes, I've heard of those authors.' I said, willing myself to blush and lowering my eyes. All wrote on S&M homoerotica, mostly from the nonfiction stance. I wasn't either surprised or shocked. I'd been briefed on the good general's proclivities.
'And?' the general said, looking at me intently and squeezing my knee under the table.
'And . . . I have never, but . . .'
'But?' he pressed on.
'But I do find it . . . interesting.'
'And arousing?' he asked.
'Yes, a bit. Enticing, certainly. But, of course, this in Bulla Regia. It's not something to really even consider here, is it?' At this statement, I raised my face with as much drama as I could and looked directly into his eyes. His hand had gone up my thigh, and I had willed myself hard for him.
'And how do you find me, professor?'
'Fascinating and dangerous,' I responded, and I looked him directly in the eyes when I said it.
'And it does not shock you that I read Ashbee and Heider and Jacques?'
'You do not fear the light lash, the binding? Being completely at the mercy of another?'
'I don't know, to be honest. It rather excites me.'
At that point Yunes had turned his attention back to us and General Tariq had withdrawn his hand. Not long afterward Yunes said he was bored, we said our good-byes, and he took me back to my apartment and fucked me in the inventive position he had watched the Bulgarian use to take the Nubian in the club. Yunes cocked well. I was somewhat sad to move on from him.
On the third visit, the general once more invited us to his table, an invitation Yunes could not decline, as the general trumped his family for the moment in the national power positioning.
And Yunes made the mistake of needing to go take a piss.
I made my move. 'About those authors you mentioned last week, General.'
'I've been reading them. Some of the milder things they talk about.'
'Well, those seem very interesting. Very . . . arousing.'
The general was smiling broadly. 'Would you like to see my new villa by the sea?'
'Yes, that would be nice. Perhaps we could set up a time.'
'Now,' the general said. His breathing told me that he was, indeed, very interested in a visit now.
'But Yunes,' I said.
'Now,' the general repeated.
The general's special room was in the basement of his villa. I was strapped into a black leather sling suspended from the ceiling, with my arms and legs running up the four corner chains and bound there, which I didn't much like, and a choke collar on a leash that the general tugged on with each of his thrusts, which I liked even less, and a riding crop flicking at my flanks, which I didn't like at all. But I didn't mind the cocking. And the general was pleased enough to schedule a return visit - and then another.
On my third visit, I only got as far as his foyer.
'We are not going downstairs tonight, Guy,' the general said. His two goons were standing close to me on each side.
'Then perhaps - ' I started to say, wanting to make this sound good, but hoping that it was ultimate show time at last.
'Doctor, if you would,' the general muttered, and from out of the shadows a figure emerged in a well-cut suit and goatee - and with a syringe in his hand.
I started to back away, but the two goons held me fast as the doctor inserted the needle into a vein in my arm and I began to black out.
* * * *
I came to in darkness. The darkness of being blindfolded in a darkened room. I was encased in billowing softness, which I took to be a mass of pillows. And I was uncomfortable from being trussed up. I was on my back. There was pressure on the back of my neck, and I feared it would ride up to my hairline and that something awful would transpire. Whatever was wrapped around my neck was connected to why my legs were being held spread and my wrists were bound close to my spread calves. When I tried to move my legs, the pressure increased on the back of my neck.
Hands were gliding all over my body, flesh on flesh, and it struck me then, for the first time, that I was naked. The hands centered on my cock, and I was being stroked and greased fingers were working inside my hole. I stifled moans, not wanting whoever was working me to realize that I was conscious.
I came fully conscious, however, as the bulb of a cock was presented at my hole and started working itself inside me. I moaned then and groaned, and begged for mercy, not being able to gauge yet what would be the most arousing for the invader - when I cried out for mercy with the general, he took it as an invitation to be more cruel, which was all the more arousing for him. I hoped this was the fulfillment of the plan and this was a crucial point.
The cock, having entered only a few inches at that point was withdrawn and the hands were working my cock again and caressing my torso and there were lips on my nipples.
The mercy had been shown. The taking was tentative. I realized I'd used the wrong technique.
So, I begin to moan and groan and tell whoever was doing this of the pleasure I was being given. And then, after this had been going on for a while, I started to whine for the fuck.
'Please, please,' I murmured. 'Please take me. I can't take any more teasing. Please, someone fuck me. I need someone inside me.'
When the slide of the cock came, I was well open for it, and it just went deeper and deeper and deeper. He wasn't thick, but he was extra long.
I cried out that what he was doing was exactly what I wanted, and when he was completely embedded and started to slowly pump me, he gasped as I started to roll my hips within the limited freedom I had, going with the fuck, and causing my channel muscles to make love to his cock.
I told him how much I loved having him inside me and begged him to do this and that, and he responded.
'Please, though, not like this,' I murmured. 'I want to make love to you too. Free me so that I can make love to you too.'
A command was voiced, several pairs of hands worked at my bindings, and I was free. The blindfold came off, and whoever had freed me slinked into the shadows of the room. I was looking up into the face of the Lieutenant - Mezian al-Masmud, the president of Bulla Regia. Exactly as planned.
I was on my back in a mountain of pillows. We were in a large tent of some sort, and there was a soft glow beyond the tent walls. But it was still very dark inside the tent. Mezian was crouched between my spread legs, leaning over my torso, loosely embracing my chest in his arms. He had come out of me during the untrussing.
He was a handsome fellow. Early forties perhaps, with a delicate, sensual face, milk-chocolate eyes, and black, curly head hair. He had a long, lean body covered with a matting of curly black hair. The cock jutting out of his bush was also long and lean.
'Please, please kiss me,' I murmured. And he leaned down and took my lips in his and gasped as I reached down and took his cock in both of my hands and guided him back inside me.
We fucked slowly, sensually, completely, for hours, in the end with him on his back on the pillows and me riding his cock in slow, deep-penetrating rolling of my hips, like a ship riding the waves.
At dawn, men in flowing, sparkling white dishdasha Arabic robes came into the tent, Mezian disengaged from his full-body embrace of me and left with a few of them. The remaining men washed my body with tubs of water and sponges and dried me and put a white dishdasha over my head. Then they bound and blindfolded me as the tent was being struck around me.
We traveled for hours in vehicles. I knew there was more than one, because I could hear more than one motor around me. Sometime during the trip I was seized and inspected closely by someone they called 'doctor,' and a sample of blood was taken from my arm.
When we reached wherever we were going, I once more was deposited in a pile of pillows. But this time I was inside a mud brick room. The windows were barred, but we seemed to be in a town of some size. I was taken to a primitive privy in a small room off the larger one I was in, and then I was fed a simple but nourishing meal and then bathed and massaged and rubbed with ointment by a masseur whose massive hard on told me that he wanted me too, but that he dare not take me - although when I moved his hand to my cock, he enjoyed stroking - and then sucking - me to an ejaculation. I needed to cultivate the need for any man here for me. I could not discount any help I might get from someone I'd pleased.
I was clothed in a clean, white dishdasha, and I sat in the pillows, demurely, until Mezian appeared. He was in a dishdasha as well, and looked magnificent.
He came down into the pillows and embraced and kissed me and ran his hands under the hem of my dishdasha and all over my body as I sighed and moaned. I was stretched out beside him, when he took a sharp knife, giving me a moment of panic, and slit the side of my dishdasha. He barked a command and an attendant came in and took away the knife. Then he ran his hand into the slit and took possession of my cock and, while holding me close in his embrace and kissing me whenever I turned my lips to his, slowly stroked me to completion, ignoring all of my entreaties for him to fuck me.
I thought he would take me then, but he didn't. He lowered his hand to my balls and fondled those as I sighed and moaned for him, and then he went even lower and entered me with his fingers. My hole had been well greased, and he finger fucked me as I became hard again and writhed and moaned for him to exchange the fingers for his long cock. Then he took my cock in his hand and stroked me to a second ejaculation.
I was exhausted and worn out, but that's when he told me to stand, and he pulled the slit dishdasha over my head and pushed me over to a wall with my back to the cool mud bricks. He didn't take his dishdasha off but merely hiked it up around his waist and crouched down as he spread my thighs with his hands and moved the head of his cock up to my open hole. I settled my channel on his cock and then grunted and lifted my legs to encircle his waist as I groaned and groaned and groaned with his cock pushing my back up and down on the coarse mud-brick wall as his cock moved inside my channel. He wore no condom this time - bringing to mind the visit I'd had by a doctor while en route to here - and I cried out in a passion that pleased him as he set forth his flow deep inside me.
The ritual was repeated the third day when we were in yet another town, this time near the sea. We didn't fuck that night. That night I made love to Mezian's body, playing his body like a violin with my caressing hands and my lips, giving his curly body hair a sensual bath and taking his cock in my mouth and draining him three times so that he drifted off to sleep before making any more use of it.
The fourth night, in a tent again, out on the desert, I lay on my belly as Mezian rode my ass in reverse, reaching down into my channel in angles that had me howling my lust and passion. And the next night, still in a tent, but miles away from the previous encampment, I was laid on my shoulders and the back of my neck, with my torso raised, while Mezian crouched over my hips and held my legs spread with his hands and fucked down into me deeper than he ever had before.
All the time I was with Mezian in those days before the end, he never fucked me the same way twice. He told me that he was besotted with me and that there were a thousand and one ways he wanted to take me. And I told him that no one had satisfied me sexually as he did or made me as happy - and I was telling the truth.
On that last night, after sex that entailed me riding his lap, we lay there and kissed and cooed to each other.
'What sort of literature do you read, sire?' I asked.
'Romance, nineteenth-century European Romance,' he said.
I laughed, said I was happy to hear that, and gave him a kiss.
At nearly that precise moment, all hell broke out, and after a short firefight outside the tent, commandos streamed into the tent and seized Mezian. He stood and turned his face to the tent flap and spat out a 'You!'
I looked in that direction, and there was a twin of Mezian standing at the entrance. And behind him was Sam Winterberry.
Mezian was bustled out of the tent, and Sam Winterberry handed me a dishdasha, and waited until I was covered, to speak.
'You did very well, Guy. The homing device we had implanted at the back of your head worked a charm. We've been tracking you for days. I hope we've arrived soon enough.'
I said nothing.
'Oh, and let me introduce Mezwar al-Masmud, Mezian's brother. I think the people have seen Mezian so rarely now that his brother will be able to pose as him. They might be surprised, however, at the slow, but relentless improvement in Bulla Regia's relationship with Western nations and oil companies.'
There was a swirl of activity, but then I was alone in the tent with Winterberry.
'The Lieutenant?' I asked.
'Oh, don't worry, he'll be treated like a prince. He'll live better than he has here. He'll just be a bit restricted in his movements - well, more than a bit. We have very nice, out-of-the way places to accommodate men like him. We won't kill him. Never know when he might become useful. Now he can become the invisible man he always wanted to be.'
'Sam,' I said. 'About that favor. I think I earned it now.'
'Want to retire, do you?'
'Not just that, Sam. I want to go wherever you send Mezian. I want to be with him.'
Winterberry raised his eyebrows, but he didn't tell me no.