It’s probably confusing to post a novel in bits and pieces, but right now this book is in the state of rewrite.
It’s a novel I started 7 years ago, and didn’t ever think I could finish it, but then last year did. It’s an ‘erotic novel’ or something that has a fair amount of sex in it, but hopefully it feeds the storyline.
Vadas Dohendy is an art thief in the employ of a very dangerous man, Miklos Farkas. They have worked together for decades, mostly in this ‘business’. Over the past 5 years Vadas, who owns a vineyard near Eger, Hungary, has moved away from Miklos’ illegal business and wants out. Elizabeth is American, though half Hungarian. Vadas is Hungarian and lives in Paris and Hungary. He has brought Elizabeth with him to Hungary, and in spite of all else, has managed to fall in love with Elizabeth. She isn’t so sure about this man, and his activities have placed her in great danger. Miklos Farkas has raped and assaulted her, and Vadas and his men are looking for Miklos. Zoltan (an employee and friend of Vadas) was also shot by Miklos’ men in their kidnapping of Elizabeth. Miklos was sending a loud message to Vadas in his abducting and brutalization of Elizabeth for Vadas daring to leave his business. Vadas will attempt to hunt Miklos to the ends of the earth for what he has done to Elizabeth. Vadas in Hungarian means “the hunter” (sort of…) and Farkas means wolf.
Three days after Elizabeth was hospitalized, Vadas visited Zoltan in a different hospital. He was careful not to link Zoltan and Elizabeth’s circumstances. To do so would ignite suspicions, or make connections in the heads of the police. He needed time to figure out what to do about all this. Since Zoltan was shot, the police would have been notified, a report made, perhaps even an investigation begun. They would connect the dots soon enough.
A grizzled man with a hat pulled over his eyes visited Zoltan one morning. Either Peti or Sami watched over Zoltan. They didn’t think Zoltan was in any danger from Miklos’ men. At least not right now. They were probably scattered and hiding. At least Vadas and his men hoped so. They needed time.
It was Vadas who entered Zoltan’s room and sat in a chair by the bed. Zoltan looked pale. He had lost enough blood to need transfusions. He would be in hospital for at least another week. Zoltan turned his head from the window when Vadas came in. His face crinkled with a weak attempt at laughter.
“Even without a shave and that hat I could tell it was you.”
“How are you, my brother? Are you feeling stronger? Peti tells me you will be out of here within a week.”
“I’m weak, Vadas, like a kitten. I am sorry about Elizabeth. The men told me about her. I could do little to protect her, Vadas.”
“Of course, Zoltan, the bastards shot you. At least you didn’t die. Elizabeth is alive, but it was close.”
“Vadas, this shit is serious, this shit with Miklos. What happened there? Not for a moment did I think he would take such a risk.”
Vadas grimaced and pulled his hat off, brushing his hand through his hair. “He will pay for it. Now tell me, Zoltan, can you remember any of Miklos’ men? Do you think you know who shot you? Who acted in charge here?”
“I told Sami I thought it was the man called “the Romanian”. I heard someone say that name. He’s a big, bullet-headed man, Vadas. He was in charge. He knew what he was doing.”
Vadas cursed softly. “That sounds like Miklos. He would have a Romanian as his top man. Probably a relative.”
“I heard what you did to Barna.” Zoltan laughed softly. “I think you will take more than a finger from Miklos when you catch him.”
“Yeah, Miklos is living on borrowed time. You know, Zoltan, we can’t find him. At least not now. We think he might have been warned by Barna after we left him. We should have taken his cell. Barna probably called someone and they warned Miklos. Miklos had time to escape as we drove back. It’s like he disappeared into air.”
“Well, he’ll surface, Vadas. He won’t stay underground for long. He can’t. He’s got a business to run. Several.”
Zoltan sighed and lay back in the pillows. “You need more men, Vadas, you know that. You should go to Eger and call them together. You know what will happen here. Miklos will be doing the same thing. You don’t want to be short gunned as nasty as this has turned out.”
Vadas was thinking. Zoltan always gave good advice. They had been friends, worked together in the vineyards for over forty years. They had been boys, hunting and making trouble in Eger. Zoltan was one man Vadas trusted completely. He was right. He needed more men.
“So, how is your Elizabeth doing? Peti said her injuries were severe. What is known of Miklos, I would imagine she didn’t get off lightly.”
“An understatement, Zoltan. Her wrist is broken, she was raped and tortured. I found her hanging from a hook, out of it. Miklos left her there to die. He knew I would find her, sooner or later. The doctors sedated her, but she’s awake and talking now. She’s in a lot of pain but the body will heal. Her mind?” Vadas pointed to his head. “Another story.”
Zoltan shook his head. He knew Miklos as long as Vadas. The level of hatred Miklos had in him-well, he would pay with his life. Miklos was somewhere on earth. Vadas would hunt him down like the boar.
“Elizabeth told me Alexandra was involved. She caned Elizabeth. They will pay. The offense was intended for both of us.”
Zoltan crossed himself. “Alexandra was always a ringyo. She hid behind Miklos in the early days, and she still jumps to serve him. She is jealous of your woman, Vadas. That is obvious to anyone looking.”
Vadas shoved the hat back on his head as he stood to leave.
“Well, my friend, you are out of the fight for now. You get better, Zoltan. Stronger. You come back to Eger and rest. I’m going to take Elizabeth there, if she will come. Right now? I don’t know what she will do, and of course, I can’t force her. A man has limits on what he can make a woman do. She can be stubborn like a mule. Like all women, no?”
Zoltan shifted in the bed and groaned. “You care for this woman. It’s been a long time since I saw that. She’s a good woman, Vadas, but you go slow. She has some shock and can’t think straight right now. If forced, she will bolt. Better hide her passport.”
Vadas laughed. He had already considered that. Elizabeth was an American, traveling under an American passport. He needed to keep her name from the eyes and ears of the American embassy in Budapest. That would be another can of worms for him. Better she marry him, and soon. At least it would change some things, and would provide some protection for her. And he would be protected in ways, too.
It was less than a week and Vadas was in Eger with Elizabeth. He wondered where to put her, since she was clearly in pain and needed help with the most basic things. He decided on his bedroom. He would sleep on a couch there, comfortable enough. He would sleep in his bed but for that damn cast. He was afraid of turning over on her.
His bathroom was better than the one attached to her bedroom. She would need help bathing and dressing. Maria Kovacs would help. He knew Soffia could be there periodically. He still wanted to run the show, to watch over Elizabeth’s recovery. He had brought her into this shit. A some point he had to concentrate on Miklos. And soon. And by him, not the police. He needed a plan. His hatred for Miklos was eating a hole in his gut. Miklos was still breathing air, not in the ground. This was an outrage he could not swallow.
Seven men were sitting at the table in the dining room one night. Vadas sat at the head of the table and studied each man. There were empty wine bottles all over and the men were getting pleasantly drunk.
Vadas knew they could be trusted. He had known most of them for decades. If not them, who else? All had worked in the planting of the vines and the harvest for years. A few had worked on other things, too, not legal. He was the last to cast stones. He had made his money illegally. With some of these men, he had few secrets. At times they had been part of his operations.
They were all strong and independent men, good men at heart. They were closed- mouthed men and he needed help in capturing Miklos. They could dig for information, talk to men hanging in the taverns around Esztergom, grease some palms. He would pay well for this information. If they could, they would get it.
Andor spoke up, knocking back his wine and setting the heavy glass back on the table with a bang.
“Miklos must have gone insane. For him to do what he did? No man would tolerate it.” He turned and addressed Vadas.
“I can understand Zoltan being shot. He’s a man. He knows violence. He was in the way of what they wanted. But I saw the condition of your woman when we found her. Jesus Christ! What man would do this except a wild animal?”
Vadas looked up at the ceiling and pulled on his cigarette.
“When a man does this to a woman, he insults and injures not only the woman, but the man. He did this (Vadas made a vulgar thrusting motion with his hips) to fuck with me. With this, he defiled Elizabeth, but he also defiled me. Elizabeth was just a way to fuck with me.”
The men were silent, some nodding their heads. What Miklos did would not be tolerated by any man in the room. Some wondered at the calmness of Vadas, but those who knew him best knew Vadas never moved without a plan. The stakes were too high and dangerous.
Markus spoke. “This Romanian? Who is he? Has he been with Miklos long? I never heard of him. Barna, I did, but Barna wasn’t a leader. He was just a thug. This Romanian worries me, Vadas.”
“He worries me too.” Vadas took a long pull at his wine. “Sounds like he is a professional. Miklos is smart that way. He would size up what he wanted and get the man who could get the task done. This Romanian got the task done.”
Miklos wasn’t seen in Budapest. Vadas had his own men there and there were no reports of Miklos. It was thought he could have run back to Romania. He had many people there. Then again, he could have been in Paris. No one knew where he was.
Suddenly the room quieted. Elizabeth was standing in the wide doorway to the room. She was wearing a bathrobe and barefoot. Vadas turned and jumped out of his chair.
“Elizabeth, you shouldn’t be down here. You go back upstairs. Tonight is for the men and you are not to be down here. Understand?”
Elizabeth waved her hand in front of her face. “The smoke in this room would kill me, anyway. I heard the noise and I got nervous. I’ll go back upstairs and leave you to your drinking.”
She turned to go back and wobbled a bit. Vadas caught her and carried her upstairs.
“Look. The men are drinking and it’s no place for a woman. Get in bed and I will be up later.”
“Oh Vadas. I’m just nervous. I heard noise and I didn’t know what was happening downstairs.”
“You are not to worry, Elizabeth.” Vadas placed her on the bed, and kissed her on the forehead.
“Soffia told me you went to see Zoltan. How is he?”
“He is recovering, Elizabeth. He asked about you. Now, we will talk later. I must go back to the men.”
Vadas turned at the doorway and looked at Elizabeth on the big bed. She looked so small and defenseless. She looked like a child.
“Elizabeth, if you feel up to it, tomorrow we go to the house. You will like it. And the murals, of course. Do you have strength enough to walk around the house?”
“Yes. I feel so pointless sitting here, doing nothing. That would be lovely. Tomorrow morning?”
“Ok, I’ll be up later. I have work to do right now. You are ok now, you dream of your sheep.”
Vadas went back to the men and they argued and plotted until 2am. They were all pretty drunk when they left, but had at least agreed on a plan.
Vadas climbed the stairs knowing Elizabeth was long asleep and would ask no questions. Well, tomorrow was another day. Perhaps seeing the house would give her something to look towards. It needed a lot of work, but would take up her energies. He didn’t need Elizabeth hanging on his trousers with fear. Women were all a bother, with some interesting parts. Luckily the vines looked good, going into summer. The grapes had sense enough to grow on their own.