Night Flower – Chapter 53

December 31, 2018

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 53 of a new online serial novel, Night Flower, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 


Ezriel and Dina Struk left the office of Martin Weber, a noted attorney who specialized in cases that dealt with the smuggling of valuable items. His office was on the seventh floor of the Tel Aviv Towers, and they hurried toward the elevator, hoping to be able to catch the eight o’clock train to Haifa.

Ezriel summoned the elevator, but the latter seemed to be working at its own pace.

“He actually sounded encouraging,” Dina said, just to cut the silence that filled the lobby where they waited, the air between them, and the entire floor.

“Well, what does he care?” Her husband was rather somber, and not interested in smiling. “As long as he is not actively managing the case, he has no problem making promises. But I don’t know how knowledgeable he really is in Russian law. Somehow, things sounded much simpler from him than they do when Shlomo’s lawyers present them,” he said, staring at the glass wall in front of him with narrowed eyes.

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Night Flower – Chapter 52

December 23, 2018

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 52 of a new online serial novel, Night Flower, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 


It was early afternoon when Yoel parked his car near the community center in Yokne’am. He had popped over for a surprise visit to his sister and her children, to see how they were; maybe he’d order some pizza if he saw she hadn’t prepared lunch and they hadn’t eaten yet. But only Dovi and the baby were home, along with the girl who lived with them. There was a tantalizing aroma of something baking in the oven, and Dovi’s face was stained with ketchup, though he ran to clean it off before going back to cheder for the afternoon.

They didn’t know when Chaiky would be home, so Yoel decided to wait for her here, outside the community center. After waiting ten minutes, however, he gave up and called her.

“Chaiky, are you going to be at the community center for a while?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, sounding a bit disoriented. “Why, did you need something from me?”

“I just wanted to visit. I’m parked outside the community center now. So, should I come back another time?”

“No, no,” she said hastily, sensing that it would not be wise—or nice—to send him away after he’d made the effort to come all the way there. “The truth is that a few interesting things have happened here, and they are just telling me about them now. I’d want to hear your take on them. I’ll be out in two minutes, okay?”

“Fine,” he said, and leaned back. He wondered how long “two minutes” was, in female language.

It wasn’t as long as he’d feared. After four and a half minutes, he saw Chaiky walking down the path, Naomi’s hand tucked into hers. They climbed into his car.

“Hello, Yoel.” Chaiky’s voice was tight.

“Hi. Regards from your house—it smells delicious there, and everything was calm and quiet. Since when does Dovi go back to cheder in the afternoon?”

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Night Flower – Chapter 51

December 17, 2018

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 51 of a new online serial novel, Night Flower, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

The woman who met Chaiky and Naomi at the library didn’t look much like Elka, although it was her. Her eyes were shifty, as if she was embarrassed to focus on Chaiky, or perhaps it wasn’t only embarrassment. Something was bothering Elka very much, and it was not only the awkwardness at unexpectedly meeting up with her dedicated employee in this library.

“I need to speak to you, Chaiky,” she said as she picked up a book from the floor. “I’ve been meaning to for two days, but it just didn’t happen yet. You see how busy I am here. Miri is trying to help me, but there are hours that I need her to be sitting at the entrance and doing other work, so I’m stuck in here.”


Night Flower – Chapter 50

December 10, 2018

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 50 of a new online serial novel, Night Flower, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

The windows in this stairwell were built in a very strange way—narrow and high, covered with shutters that partially blocked them. The dust that had accumulated over the years took care of blocking the rest. When the light went out suddenly, Noa found herself groping in near darkness as she made her way down to the entrance. She could not recall how exactly she’d left the house. She’d shamefacedly murmured something; Mira had nodded and halfheartedly asked how she was doing today, and offered politely to keep in touch.
But that was just it—Noa didn’t really want to keep in touch. Not after she’d discovered almost with certainty that Chaiky Struk of today was the cute Chaya’le of then. That was also why she hadn’t spent too much time apologizing—because when Mira would find out who she really was, the whole story of their disastrous parting in the past would pale in comparison to what she had done to Mira’s daughter these past few months.

Only after searching all her pockets did she remember that the new phone that she’d bought as soon as she’d arrived in Be’er Sheva was resting deep in the bottom of her bag. She’d wanted to spare it the same fate as its predecessor, which was now resting—intact or not—on the floor of that strange store next to the bus station in Tel Aviv.

She leaned on the wall of the stairwell and switched on the phone. The memory was empty of numbers, of course. She didn’t even have Adi’s number! It was a good thing she knew her grandfather’s number by heart. Keep reading…

Night Flower – Chapter 49

December 3, 2018

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 49 of a new online serial novel, Night Flower, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

It took two days for Noa to recover from her frenzied getaway from Tel Aviv, during which time she did nothing but rest in the room she had found, in a small, cheap hotel. No one seemed to be looking for her either. After two days, she went to visit the old street, a visit that was actually the purpose of her trip south.

The street and the building remained much the same, but there were a few things that had changed. For example, the gate. Noa smiled to herself when she remembered her first encounter with this building, when she’d walked up the path and entered the stairwell with the high ceiling. Now she climbed to the top floor, and discovered that the nameplate on the door had also been replaced.

Her knocks yielded no response. She stood near the door for another minute, suddenly feeling overcome by exhaustion, and wondered if a dark-haired two-year-old, tottering on her two chubby legs, would suddenly burst out of the house. It was funny; she’d known her from age zero till about six or seven, but the image that remained etched in her memory, strong and tangible, was that of Chaya’le as a toddler. Sweet Chaya’le, who, from all the things Noa had found so hard to part with at the time in favor of Yadovsky, had been the most difficult.

The door remained locked and silent in her face, and Noa finally grasped that there was no point in standing there. As she walked back down the stairs, she wondered if Mira was still a preschool teacher. Maybe she could ask the neighbors what time Mira usually came home, and if she was even in town right then. What if Mira was out of town, or even out of the country, at the moment? If that were to be the case, she would have to come up with another plan.

She stopped near the door on the first floor, just as the sound of footsteps echoed from the entrance of the building. Someone was on the way up the stairs, and she was talking on the phone. Noa tensed. Keep Reading…

Night Flower – Chapter 48

November 26, 2018

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 48 of a new online serial novel, Night Flower, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Adi approached the desk and peered at the bag through the glass. Yes, that was Noa’s suitcase. And in case there remained any doubt, there was a fluorescent yellow swath of tape with Noa’s identifying details written on it.

“Excuse me?” she said, raising her voice, because no one seemed to be in the room.

“Yes?” An older woman stood up from behind the pile of suitcases and bags.

“Can you tell me when this suitcase was put here?”

“I can’t give you details like that,” the woman replied, clearly impatient. “We don’t just give information out to other people.”

“But the suitcase belongs to my friend who disappeared,” Adi almost pleaded. “Just tell me if it was dropped off in the last few minutes or a long time ago.”

The woman stared at her. “Neither,” she said, after a moment. “She was here about an hour and a half ago.”

“She was alone?”

“You see why I don’t like answering people?” the woman asked, and went back to her little stool in the corner of the room. “A minute ago you said I should just tell you when that suitcase was dropped off, and suddenly you have more questions.”

“Because I saw that you are nice and that you realize that I’m very upset, so I tried to get a bit more information from you.” Adi took a step back and gripped the handle of the carriage, but didn’t leave.

The woman sat down and picked up a rag that was lying on the floor next to her. She dusted off a small shelf and put two medium-sized boxes on it. Suddenly she raised her head and snapped, “She was alone. Does that make you feel better?”

“Not exactly.” Adi took a deep breath.

“Why, is she lost?” Keep Reading…

Night Flower – Chapter 47

November 19, 2018

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 47 of a new online serial novel, Night Flower, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Noa stared icily at the woman, and then immediately turned around, but just beyond the doorway to the store, she saw a few figures standing in the shadow beneath the awning. So she was surrounded.

Grandfather had won.

But she wouldn’t capitulate quite so fast.

Noa turned back into the dim interior of the store. “Excuse me,” she said politely to the woman blocking her way. “I want to pass.”

“You’ll ask your grandfather to excuse you in a few hours, when you get to him, because you’re not going anywhere,” the woman replied with a smile. “You’re coming with me now. I was informed that you have a rebellious nature, but I still suggest that you come with me without making a fuss, if you have a pair of eyes and any sense.”

“Excuse me.” Noa pretended not to have heard a thing. “I need to get my things.”

“Things?” The woman looked at Noa, who was carrying just a small tote bag. “Where are they?”

Noa nodded vaguely toward one of the corners in the store. Excellent. She had no idea when they had begun following her here, but it did not seem that this woman knew where her things really were.

The woman threw a few words to the men standing outside. Noa did not even make the effort to listen. She walked further into the dim bazaar with a confident step, and this time, no one blocked her path. Feverishly she rummaged in her skirt pocket, passing by the shelves packed with all kinds of clothing. She picked up her pace, happy to see that the store was both very large and very messy. Behind her, she saw her guard standing and staring at her.

She bent down behind a circular rack of clothes, and with two presses on the phone, she got to Adi’s number. She only hoped she was home now!

Her wordless prayer was answered. “Hello?”

“Adi? I’m in trouble, in a clothing store at the Central Bus Station.”

“Noa? Is that you?”

“Yes. Remember the code TK4125#224611, okay?”

Behind her she heard brisk footsteps. “Here, my bag is here!” Noa cried and stood up, running to the other side. Without looking backward or trying to listen to the noises, she knew that her pursuer was running behind her.

“Say it again?”


“Should I call the police?”

“For now, I don’t think so. They won’t dare do anything to me because—” The phone fell to the floor that was covered in layers of dirt and skittered away when Noa bent down once more. She found herself next to the entrance again. She couldn’t go outside now; they were literally blocking the door. She made a dash toward the right, where she remembered there being a counter with a register of sorts. Yes. There was something there; a saleswoman with a veiled headdress was sitting there, looking totally indifferent to the chase taking place in her store.

“Where’s there a door?” Noa whispered. “Besides the front door.”

The saleswoman didn’t say a word. She rose heavily from her place, and without even taking one step, she stuck her hand out and moved aside a broad metal rack, on which several garish yellow shirts were hanging. Suddenly the darkened space was flooded with sunlight, and Noa leaped through the opening. The door slammed shut behind her and she made a sharp right turn, away from the bus station.
She raced into one of the nearby alleys, hoping that her pursuers would not decide to choose the same one. She ran, stumbling, weaving between the streets and alleys. She knew the game was up. Now she and Grandfather were tied, but she would change that yet. She would reach a safe place, and then she would contact him personally, and clarify her position and the reason why she had launched this game of cat and mouse. She would do what he wanted her to do so desperately, and then she would part from him forever.

With tired eyes, Noa stood on the curb and stopped a cab. “To Be’er Sheva,” she said, and sized up the driver somewhat anxiously. He didn’t look like the kind of person that Grandfather employed.

The trip southward was smooth, with no interruptions. Noa tried to imagine how her pursuers had reacted the minute they realized she had absconded through the side door. Who had begun to chase her, and who had remained behind to report to Grandfather that his rebellious granddaughter had once again slipped away?

But she would contact Grandfather and present him with the facts: The code was no longer exclusively in her hands, and now, she was not the only one who could expose what was in the hard drive from a distance. Anyone who had the code could choose what would suddenly appear on the computer screens of the investigators in Russia—the parts that would incriminate Shlomo Struk…or the parts that would report Grandfather’s role in the whole affair. So yes, Grandfather would get what he needed from her—but it wouldn’t be exactly as he liked it.

Because if she wanted to break off from this chokehold of her family, and forge her path in the world on her own steam, she had to make sure that it would be a secure path. And the only way to do that would be to have the final say with Grandfather.


Adi was double-locking the door when the taxi honked downstairs. With one hand she clutched Chana’le, and in the other she lugged the folded carriage. It may have been foolish to take a baby on a rescue-spy-search-aid mission, but she didn’t have where to leave her and she had to find out what was going on with Noa. If it would take too long, perhaps she would ask Racheli Korman to come from Bnei Brak to take the baby. Or perhaps she could ask Racheli for help?

Adi slammed the trunk of the taxi closed and climbed into the car. “The new Central Bus Station, please.”

Within seven minutes, she was paying the driver, and she emerged into the steamy street. She placed Chana’le in the carriage; the baby continued sleeping angelically. Adi stood stock-still for a moment, perusing the passersby. No, Noa was not among them, and she still wasn’t answering her cell phone. Adi pushed the carriage into the building, passing by the security guards. Everything looked calm and normal; no one seemed aware of the drama that had taken place right here half an hour ago—and which could still be going on at this very moment.

Adi had always been the thorough type, and when she did something, she did it all the way. For a full fifty minutes she searched through the whole place, going up and down in the elevators and checking all the floors, corners, and bus platforms. Only then did she decide that she was ninety-nine percent certain that Noa was not there.

So where was she?

Adi looked to her left and to her right, straining her ears to hear any Russian talk. But the only language she heard was Sudanese. On a bench near the optical store that sold sunglasses on sale for just 590 shekels, an old lady sat and gazed at the bundle of helium balloons tied to the entrance of the store. “Excuse me,” Adi said, approaching her. “Did you perhaps see someone around here who looked like she needed help?”

The woman raised her eyes. “Help?” she asked. “What kind of help?”

“Rescue, protection, something like that.” Adi spoke quickly. “A woman who was being chased. Did you see such a thing? Was there any type of commotion here just before?”

“Not at all. How old is this woman? Young?”

“Not very. Something like thirty-five.”

“That’s very, very young!” the woman declared, and then began to think. After a few seconds she said, “No. I didn’t see anything. Call the police; that’s your best bet.”

“Thanks,” Adi said.

The woman squinted at her. “Are you sure this person was really here?”

“That’s what I thought,” said Adi, “but it doesn’t look like it.”

“Why doesn’t it look like it?”

“Because people here are saying they didn’t see anyone or anything like what I’m describing.”

“And who told you that this person was really here, and that this whole chase really happened?”

“She did.”

“So maybe that wasn’t accurate?” the woman asked, and stretched out slowly on the bench.

Adi looked at the shiny floor. Maybe it wasn’t accurate? But…why shouldn’t it be? What reason in the world could make Noa ask for her help and then give her misinformation about her location?

Chana’le let out a tinny wail, and Adi sat down on the bench next to the woman and pawed around in the carriage bassinet for a pacifier. Was Noa in danger now? It was hard to believe. After all, as she’d started to say before the call was suddenly cut off, it was her grandfather who was looking for her. On the other hand, Noa was really, really making an effort to avoid those who were hunting her down so diligently. Maybe that phone call had been deliberately misleading? Noa had said something about her home phone possibly being tapped. Maybe she wanted her grandfather’s people to think she was at the Central Bus Station, so they would move away from wherever she really was?

Adi remained seated on the bench, rocking the carriage mechanically. It wasn’t a pleasant experience to feel like a fool who came charging over in alarm because of a phone call from a friend, without thinking it through first. It was pretty clear that Noa had no idea what her phone call would lead to. Unfortunately, Noa could not be expected to think about others, certainly not at a time when she felt threatened and was on the run.

The baby fell back asleep, and Adi suddenly didn’t have an ounce of energy to schlep back home with her. She lacked the money for taxis, except, of course, when she was putting too much trust in people instead of using her common sense.

Her phone rang, and Adi discovered that not only did she not have the energy to walk half an hour home, she didn’t even have the strength to check who was calling her. But she picked up a hand to wipe away the tears that suddenly pricked at the corners of her eyes, and at the same time glanced at the screen. No, she couldn’t answer Racheli’s call right now, sweet and understanding as she was. Adi would cry, and Racheli would think it was because of her loneliness and the financial problems and the pain and everything. Adi wouldn’t be able to explain that she’d just been insulted by a friend—that was all.

But somehow, Racheli’s smile, even without Adi being able to see it, drove Adi to stand up, and to push the carriage toward the exit of the bus station. She vaguely remembered that there was another exit that would spare her the more roundabout route home, and would shorten the distance significantly. She tried to remember exactly where that exit was.

Finally she found it, a small door in a remote corner of the station, next to the counter where people could check in their belongings. She wanted to walk through the door, but something inside the baggage room caught her eye. There was a pile of suitcases there, and the one closest to the counter was black, huge, and very, very familiar-looking.