The Siege: A Novel
Artist Theia Constas receives a tour of Italy from her grandmother as a college graduation present. Before she departs, her ya-ya's deathbed revelation of a cache of WWII photographs and love letters extends Theia's itinerary to Crete in search of her unknown grandfather, a promising artist who studied under Chagall but didn't survive the war.
Wade Bingham, an actuary who always follows the rules and calculates the odds, finds himself alone on his honeymoon trip, wondering why his fiancée jilted him at the last minute.
In the wrong place at the wrong time when their hotel in Florence, Italy, is besieged by terrorists, the two strangers find themselves thrust together in Wade's honeymoon suite. Immediately attracted to each other, Wade conducts a siege of his own to win Theia's heart.
“Go back to your room,” the American tour director ordered, shouting at the woman.
“I can’t get the door to open,” Theia protested, thrusting her key card at him in frustration.
The tour director hurriedly took the proffered card in sweaty hands and tried the lock, which didn’t click. He jammed the key card into the slot again, to no avail.
A man opened the door and stuck his head out of the room. “What’s wrong? Is this some kind of a fire drill?”
“It’s no drill. Get back in your room and shelter in place until I give the all-clear. Don’t open the door to anyone.” The tour director returned Theia’s card. “Get back in your room with your husband.”
“This is my room, but he’s not my husband,” Theia insisted.
“There must be some kind of mistake,” the man in the room announced. “This is my room.”
The tour director grabbed the woman’s key card again and examined the key holder. He shook his head, rolled his eyes, and looked at Theia like she was a recalcitrant child. “You’re on the wrong floor, miss. This is Room 515. You’re in Room 415.”
“I’m sorry.” Theia blew out a breath and turned to leave. The tour director blocked her way.
“Excuse me, but I need to get back to my room.” Tears of exhaustion pooled in her eyes. She wanted to scream.
“I’m afraid you can’t go anywhere. We’ve disabled the elevators for your safety, and hotel security is blocking the stairs, for now.” He ushered her into Room 515 and pushed her into the arms of the man standing at the door. “You need to stay here until we get this all sorted out.”
“But this is not my room!”
The tour director’s patience was wearing thin. “I don’t have time to explain, but you can’t move now!” He started to pull the door closed.
“Wait,” said the man in Room 515, trying to cope with a handful of seriously steamed woman. “What’s going on here?”
Other heads appeared out of other doors down the hall, setting off a buzz of concern.
“Is something wrong?”
“What’s all this racket about?”
“Is there a fire?”
“We have a situation,” explained the frustrated tour director, his face growing progressively redder and his voice more strained. “You need to stay in your rooms and lock your doors until you receive further instructions.”
“But we were just going down to the dining room,” protested a man in a dinner jacket, heading out of his room, followed by his well-dressed wife, who was decked out in an impressive array of jewels.
“Stop,” yelled the tour guide, raising his hand in front of his face.
How could those people eat? Theia wondered. When she got to her room, she was going to shed her clothes, plop face down on the mattress, and zonk out for the rest of the evening. And dream about soaking her feet in a hot tub, which she would totally do, if she could actually summon the strength to climb into the tub. The full-day tour to Cinque Terre had been like a forced death march.
The tour director glared at the complaining couple emerging from Room 517.