by Jenny Morton Potts
Publication Date: June 14th, 2018
Genre: Romantic Thriller
On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.
‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea.
An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.
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Scott Langbrook is in love with Fiyori Maziq, his team leader at Reach (a health organisation in the Mediterranean). In this abridged scene, he declares himself. – Jenny Morton Potts
Scott bought a bag of khubzit howsh and followed Fiyori along the streets as they become narrower and the buildings changed from concrete to mud. The doctor walked very fast, her loose clothing pulled tightly across her chest, till she reached a dark alley and stood before an exquisitely painted door.
Scott called softly to Fiyori and she turned, the key not yet in the lock.
He walked up to her. “What an incredibly beautiful door. The craftsmanship is stunn—”
“You think I don’t notice someone following me? You think I’d last more than five minutes?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”
“What do you want?”
“You see this door, Langbrook? All the details, the intricate carving, the hand-mixed paint colours, the care? The sheet art of it?”
“Like I said, it’s incredible.”
“My friend made it. They saw how different it was, oh yeah. And they killed him for it. They dragged him along the streets to the Ahmi Sayeed Memorial. You know it?”
“Yes, I, it’s the one with the seahorse.”
“They kissed him, by the Memorial. They hugged my friend. They put their hands on his genitals. They laughed and told him they loved him. Then they sawed his head off. In broad daylight, cars going by, children walking home from school.”
“Oh my God, Dr Maziq. I’m sorry. I… really, I’m so sorry I followed you. I only wanted—”
“You wanted, you wanted, you wanted. To what? To fuck me?”
Scott took a deep breath. “I’ve made my apologies. Now I’ll say goodnight.”
Fiyori wrenched open the door. “Get in here, Langbrook.”
Inside there was just a bed with a crumpled white sheet on top and a rudimentary fireplace with a cast iron tripod. Beside that there was a pot on a trivet with an airline magazine covering the contents. Electric cable was gaffer taped to palm beams in the low ceiling. In the corner, there were a couple of small suitcases at various levels of packing or unpacking and an enormous wooden sideboard whose surface accommodated ablutions and food preparation.
“I’ve got cognac. Well, cooking brandy.” Fiyori switched on a light.
Scott found himself holding his breath as he watched her move around this dark, perfect, little hovel. Fiyori pulled her shirt off and wore nothing beneath. Scott’s lips were sticking together. Fiyori shook her dark hair around her shoulders. She poured water from a terracotta jug into a bowl and began soaping her body and splashing. Scott watched her intently and she showed no signs of objecting. Within seconds, she’d done enough and walked over to a suitcase and pulled out a white t-shirt to put on.
Fiyori poured brandy into two china cups. “I keep thinking I’m about to die.”
“Me too. Be strange to think anything else, round here.” Scott sat down next to her and took his cup.
Fiyori threw back her brandy and took off her socks. “Should I wash these?” She nodded at her feet.
Scott leaned towards her feet, taking a sniff. “There’s much worse feet than these. For instance.” He took off his own shoes and socks and wiggled his toes. As he watched her move her legs languidly on the bed, he was concerned that his erection would pop the buttons of his cargo pants.
“Listen, Langbrook, I’m quite tired and there is just an outside chance that I’ll fall asleep. Don’t take it personally. Condoms in the zippy bit of the suitcase. Could you? No, not that zip, one on the front pouch.”
“What’s this?” Scott held up – as if his opposable thumb and index finger were tweezers – a semi-automatic pistol.
“It’s known in common parlance as a gun.”
“You never got this through airport security.”
“So… you bought it here?”
“I’ve had it for a very long time, Langbrook. I have it posted to me, kind of. Shipped. Place to place. Not through a letterbox, you understand. What do you carry?”
“Me? I don’t carry anything. What sort is it?”
“It’s a point two two Beretta. Hopeless in a crowd, but ideal for something intimate, like a close range head shot. I should get something new, but we’ve been together for many years and it would be disloyal to replace her. You know?”
Scott knew nothing, nothing at all, he was well aware of that. He set the Beretta down in the case and backed away. Now then, where was he. Completely nude, he let her have a good, long look and said, “I will take it very personally, if you fall asleep.”
“God, but you are lovely, aren’t you. Can we do it really quickly please. I know that’s not something you’ll hear from women generally, but you and I know how short life is.”
“And what is expected of us tomorrow.”
He stood in front of her and she came to the edge of the bed, reaching out very slowly to caress him; so intricate, like she was blind, and doing the exact lingering opposite of what she’d just said.
“Do you think of me, Langbrook? Do you close your eyes in the shower? You don’t have to close them now. Look at me. Do you wait for the others to wash first, so that you can be alone? So that you can imagine this?” Fiyori ran her tongue along the ridge of vein on his hard cock, back and forth, her hands tenderly cupping his balls, until her mouth finally took him in. She looked up into his face and he gathered her hair in his fingers as she gripped his buttock in one hand. When he felt the mildest graze of her teeth, he came, and she held him gently then, finally returning his smile.
This is not a book to be pigeon-holed in any way, being quite hard to describe as it is made up of much than you realise as you read it. It’s a story that demands your attention; you daren’t skim for fear of missing a key morsel of info. Human trafficking, suicide bombers, corruption, blackmail and fraud are but a few topics within its pages, but somehow it all works as a whole.
Initially, it was hard to get into, confusing for much of the first half, switching between characters, places and timelines without any clues. Towards the end though, everything was revealed in a simple, straightforward manner. Admittedly, it was so unlike anything I had read before, but it certainly delivered in terms of being fascinating and thought-provoking.
Many of the characters were not easy to get to know, and nor were they the most likeable people either. Of the bunch, Mrs Langbrook (Mark 1) – aka Lucienne or Luci – was the least endearing, yet it was through her cutting and pointed retorts that other characters, like Finlay & Susan, came to life. That being said, she came across as very real, with raw emotional wounds and the associated antagonistic grief that often accompanies such heartache. At times, I would scream at her, then she’d make me laugh.
The genius of this book was how I was led to believe certain characters were wholly altruistic, serving and caring for the vulnerable. By the end, it was clear that I knew very little about what drove some of them to act the way they did – it was a revelation, and riveting at that.
The issues I had with the first half of the book were quickly eradicated as the story evolved; only then was it clear how meticulously planned out this story had been, coming together to be something quite exceptional than its individual chapters and characters.
A book that requires focus, a story that touches upon some of the worst of humankind as well as the best. Beautifully crafted, for this was more than the written word, in spite of there being some wonderful phrasing and outstanding dialogue.
It’s an unconventional novel, certainly not a light read; it’s challenging – so stick with it – and ultimately worth the effort.
About the Author
Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.
Jenny is giving away 5 digital copies of Just in your preferred format, so be sure to enter the giveaway!
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