“This is your final chance, Sidney,” Silverstein said, slouching in his Italian leather chair, staring at me over his cheaters. “And I really mean it this time. Your last two trips were disasters.”
“Final chance, Sidney,” echoed Andre, Silverstein’s wormy little assistant.
I wanted to smack him. My chances were none of Andre’s business.
“Mr. Silverstein,” I pled, leaning forward in my chair toward the shiny expanse of his desk at the travel agency, hoping for some real understanding, “You must know that what happened on that safari was not my fault.”
He tented his hands behind his curly gray head, and leaned further back in the chair, resting his head against his big, bronzed wrists. He studied me in silence, his stare unrelenting. He wore an expensive open collared shirt with sleeves precisely rolled to his elbows.
“Maybe not, in the strictest sense, Sidney. Maybe not. But what about the trip before the safari…that nightmare of a cruise?”
“That wasn’t my fault either. I didn’t invite a killer to come on the cruise. Surely you can’t blame those murders on me!”
Sitting up, he extended his long arms, palms uplifted, into an elaborate shrug.
“All I know, Sidney, is that on the trips you’ve been leading lately, stuff happens. Bad stuff. People die. It may be just bad luck, it may not be your fault, but somehow it happens. And if your luck doesn’t change, and I mean right now, you are out of a job. My lawyers are screaming. Itchy Feet Travel can’t take any more unfortunate accidents. It’s bad for business.”
“Bad for business,” Andre repeated, nodding.
“People are attracted to you, Sidney,” Silverstein said, leaning back once again in his chair, “I’ll give you that. They like you, they really do. You get high marks in all the customer satisfaction surveys. You are smart, good-looking and friendly, and in every other respect, you are a good agent. A class act. But your luck’s gotta change, and that’s the bottom line.”
He stared silently at me for a beat, then he leaned forward towards the desk and his expression softened.
“You can do well on this, Sidney,” he said, “if you stick to your business and don’t go looking for trouble. Diana has the details of the assignment. Stop by her office when you leave here and pick up the rest of the paperwork.”
Andre, hovering at his elbow, handed him a slim folder. Silverstein glanced through it briefly then passed it over to me.
“This should be a breeze, Sidney. I wish I was going. This is a great trip. You and Jay will be escorting a select group of high-end clients on a deluxe tour of India with a side trip following to Nepal. These people are the silver tunas, Sidney, a real catch for my agency. I can see a lot of fat commissions coming from this in the future, and we all know I could sure use some cash.”
He wasn’t finished. I started to reply, but he waved me into silence.
“Why, you may ask, am I giving you this plum? Well, I wouldn’t risk sending you out with this group,” he said, with a grim smile, “given your recent track record, but you have been specifically requested as tour escort by Mrs. Shyler. And as you know, we do all we can to keep her happy. She spends a ton with us. If Shyler hadn’t demanded that you go with her group, you’d be on your way to Atlantic City with the gambling bus.”
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Brooke to the rescue once again, bless her!
He rose from his chair, indicating that the interview was over. Clutching my new assignment, I grabbed my bag, followed Andre to the door, and was almost out of there when Silverstein’s voice, calling my name, stopped me. I looked back from the doorway.
“Sidney,” he said, “We’re making big bucks on this. Don’t screw it up. This is your last chance. And I really mean that. Understand?”
I nodded, pushed past Andre into the hall, and marched toward Diana’s office to pick up the details of what could be my final job for Itchy Feet Travel. . .
Side Trip to Kathmandu (March, 2015, Camel Press) is the third novel in The Sidney Marsh Murder Mystery Series. This travel mystery series also includes Shore Excursion, which introduced amateur sleuth Sidney Marsh, and Game Drive. Foreword Reviews named Game Drive as a Finalist for 2013 Book of the Year, Mystery Category.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on March 23 for the chance to win a copy of Side Trip to Kathmandu. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.
About the author
Marie Moore is a native Mississippian. She graduated from Ole Miss, married a lawyer in her hometown, taught junior high science, raised a family, and worked for a small weekly newspaper—first as a writer and later as Managing Editor. She wrote hard news, features and a weekly column, and won a couple of MS Press Association awards for her stories. In 1985, Marie left the newspaper to open a retail travel agency, which she managed for the next fifteen years. The Sidney Marsh mysteries are inspired by those experiences. Marie is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She and her husband now live in Memphis, TN, and Holly Springs, MS.
Says Moore, “India and Nepal are two of the most fascinating countries on earth, so that is where I chose to send Sidney and Jay in Side Trip to Kathmandu. It is quite true that a visit of any length to India will change your life. India is so ancient, so complex, so colorful that one cannot help but be affected by her forever. Then there is Nepal, that mystical former kingdom tucked into the highest mountains in the world, closed to modern civilization for so many years and populated by fierce, hard-working and beautiful people. I thought when I visited these marvelous countries that someday I would surely return. And so I have, through Sidney’s eyes.”
For more information, visit: www.MarieMooreMysteries.com.