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  A Bitter Veil

  Libby Fischer Hellmann

  ALLIUM PRESS OF CHICAGO

  Table of Contents

  Table of Contents

  Also by Libby Fischer Hellmann

  Copyright Page

  PART ONE

  One

  Two

  Three

  Four

  Five

  Six

  Seven

  Eight

  Nine

  Ten

  Eleven

  Twelve

  Thirteen

  Fourteen

  Fifteen

  Sixteen

  Seventeen

  Eighteen

  PART TWO

  Nineteen

  Twenty

  Twenty-one

  Twenty-two

  Twenty-three

  Twenty-four

  Twenty-five

  Twenty-six

  Twenty-seven

  Twenty-eight

  Twenty-nine

  Thirty

  Thirty-one

  Thirty-two

  Thirty-three

  Thirty-four

  Thirty-five

  Thirty-six

  Thirty-seven

  Thirty-eight

  PART THREE

  Thirty-nine

  Forty

  Forty-one

  Forty-two

  Forty-three

  Forty-four

  Forty-five

  Forty-six

  Forty-seven

  Forty-eight

  Forty-nine

  Fifty

  Author’s Note

  Reading List

  About the Author

  Also Published by Allium Press of Chicago

  Praise for Libby Fischer Hellmann’s previous novel

  Set the Night on Fire

  “A top-rate standalone thriller that taps into the antiwar protests of the 1960s and 70s…A jazzy fusion of past and present, Hellman’s insightful, politically charged whodunit explores a fascinating period in American history.”

  Publishers Weekly

  “Superior standalone novel…Hellmann creates a fully-realized world…complete with everyday details, passions and enthusiasms on how they yearned for connection, debated about ideology and came to belief in taking risks to stand up for what they believed.”

  Chicago Tribune

  “Haunting…Rarely have history, mystery, and political philosophy blended so beautifully…could easily end up on the required reading list in college-level American History classes.”

  Mystery Scene

  “Politics, suspense, and action all blend seamlessly together to create a fine thriller.”

  Deadly Pleasures

  “[H]er best novel yet…This wonderfully written roller-coaster ride will make a fan out of anyone who hasn’t read this author before…A beautiful, suspenseful, and altogether amazing novel, this is one that shouldn’t be missed.”

  New Mystery Reader

  “Libby Fischer Hellmann masterfully combines contemporary suspense and historical elements in equal parts…A terrific read.”

  Midwest Book Review

  “The author creates the atmosphere of the sixties perfectly…This is a terrific book for those who want to relive those times when we thought we could do anything.”

  Murder by Type

  “The 1960s-set backstory is compelling…this is an exciting book for readers who enjoy an action-packed thriller mixed with their historical facts.”

  Nanette Donohue, Historical Novels Review

  “Hellmann has done a superlative job with the 60s Chicago setting. I felt as though I had entered a time machine and been transported back. She makes the entire time come alive, recreating a historical time in perfect detail.”

  Reviewing the Evidence

  Also by Libby Fischer Hellmann

  Set the Night on Fire

  **

  THE GEORGIA DAVIS SERIES

  ToxiCity

  Doubleback

  Easy Innocence

  **

  THE ELLIE FOREMAN SERIES

  A Shot to Die For

  An Image of Death

  A Picture of Guilt

  An Eye for Murder

  **

  Nice Girl Does Noir (short stories)

  **

  Chicago Blues (editor)

  Allium Press of Chicago

  Forest Park, Illinois

  www.alliumpress.com

  This is a work of fiction. Descriptions and portrayals of real people, events, organizations, or establishments are intended to provide background for the story and are used fictitiously. Other characters and situations are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not intended to be real.

  © 2012 by Libby Fischer Hellmann

  All rights reserved

  Book and cover design by E. C. Victorson

  Front cover images:

  Woman by Daniel M. Nagy/Shutterstock.com

  Backgrounds by ilolab and pavila, both Shutterstock.com

  Tile border by kasia_ka/iStockphoto.com

  *****

  Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication Data

  (Prepared by The Donohue Group, Inc.)

  Hellmann, Libby Fischer.

  A bitter veil / Libby Fischer Hellmann.

  p. ; cm.

  ISBN: 978-0-9831938-1-4

  1. Iran--History--Revolution, 1979--Fiction. 2. Political prisoners--Iran--Tehran--Fiction. 3. Americans--Iran--Tehran--Fiction. 4. Iranians--Illinois--Chicago--Fiction. 5. Intercountry marriage--Fiction. 6. Historical fiction. 7. Love stories. I. Title.

  PS3608.E46 B58 2012

  813/.6 2012932763

  *****

  EBOOK ISBN: 978-0-9831938-2-1

  For all those who've been brave enough to take

  a stand against tyranny…whatever its guise

  Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing

  and rightdoing there is a field.

  I’ll meet you there.

  —Rumi

  PART ONE

  One

  Summer, 1980

  Anna was deeply asleep, which was unusual for her. She generally tossed and turned until the desperate hours of the night passed. But tonight she’d succumbed almost immediately.

  The first knock seemed like part of a dream, and her brain started constructing a story around it. As she swam up to consciousness there was another knock. The sound left a residual imprint in her ears, and for an instant she tried to figure out its intent. Was it an angry thump? A frightened plea? A perfunctory tap? She checked the clock and grew immediately wary.

  She threw the covers aside, grabbed her chador, and draped it over her baby doll pajamas. Nouri was not home. After what had happened earlier she wasn’t surprised, but it meant she had to answer the door. Still, she hesitated. Whoever was there would see her sharp features, pale green eyes, and blonde eyebrows. They would know she wasn’t Iranian. They might even suspect she was from the decadent West, perhaps the Great Satan itself. And if that happened, whatever mission brought them would be tainted with that knowledge.

  She carefully pushed the curtain aside and looked out. It was summer in Tehran, a hot, arid time that reminded her of the dog days of August in Chicago. She and Nouri lived on an upscale street in Shemiran with walled-off houses set back from the road. At this hour the street was quiet and dark, save for a black Mercedes parked by the gate. The engine was off, but its headlamps were still on, and two precise beams of light illuminated tree trunks and overgrown bushes.

  Three uniformed men, all bearded, crowded the door. One had his hands planted on his hips. The other two stood hunched over, arms folded around machine guns. Somehow they’d been able to break through the gate. Fear pumped through her