But our day was not over yet. As we got home we found Biggi and her bodyguard in the kitchen, Biggi already quite tipsy. There was an empty bottle of bubbly and two glasses of wine on the table. The officer had decided, realizing that Angela was not home to take the relay, that he had to stay until our return. I apologized sincerely for my thoughtlessness but he just smiled and said:
"I am sure, Frau Kommissar, that you had a lot on your mind today, my pains being to the very end of the list, and rightly so."
"What?" broke in Biggi her speech suddenly clear "Frau Kommissar? Are you joking, Fred?"
So they were on first name basis now, were they? All the better, I supposed.
"I am sorry," I said "I had forgotten your name, Fred. In any case, I quite like your initiative and so, if you’d like, I can ask for you to be joined to my team. In any case you may call me Monika, like all the others." I turned to Biggi and continued: "No, Biggi, he is not joking. This morning there was a meeting in the office of the president of the police and I have been promoted to the rank of Kommissar and been put in charge of a special unit to deal with Christiane's murder and the protection gang all in one. On top of that my name change has been made official and from tomorrow I am Monika Magdalena Schwedt, in passport, ID and all."
Biggi was speechless for a while. Angela and I got two more chairs and two more glasses and another bottle of Macon village. We sank down tiredly and sipped our wine.
"So," I asked the guy called Fred finally "what do you think?"
"I am quite happy in individual protection, Frau ... ah ... Monika. But thank you very much for the offer. I’d nevertheless like to keep Biggi here safe as long as it is necessary."
"Deal." I said. "Now you are welcome to stay for a drink or go home, as you please."
"In that case I’ll have one more glass of that excellent wine, please."
I poured him one and he raised his glass in a toast saying:
"To your future as the first female Kommissar in Hamburg, Monika. All the best."
We all chinked our glasses and drank some wine. As Angela and I relaxed we started feeling that we had started the day rather early and had not had a lot of sleep for a while. Fred finished his drink and got up saying:
"You two look completely wiped out, if I may say so. I’ll leave you to rest, I am sure your days are incredibly busy."
"Thank you, Fred. Get home safely." I said, also finishing my glass. "I am off to bed."
I led him to the door and shook hands with him, then I hurriedly undressed and washed and jumped into bed. Angela joined me a couple of minutes later and soon we were fast asleep.
The next morning we got up very early again, since I had to be at the UG (Untersuchungsgefängnis), the prison where suspects under arrest are kept, to meet Wolfram at ten and there were the Stempels to be introduced to the team and possibly the two female officers to get to know. I therefore wanted to be at Davidwache at seven, also because I wanted to keep Harry informed. Since I was probably going to end up at Wohltorf again I put on a black body, self supporting black stockings, the stretch mini, the rose coloured sweatshirt and the black high heels. I did not feel like make-up yet, so I packed stuff for later. The fact, that thanks to Barbara’s epilation I did still not have to shave in the morning was a constant joy every time I got up, and thanks to that I did not need Make-up really, by now. I felt quite safe and at home in myself even without. Angela just put on some Lipstick and mascara and we were off after a quick cup of strong black coffee.
We were the first of the team at Davidwache and even Schneider was not there when we arrived at seven, so we got some more coffee from Marianne, who was already on morning shift and she congratulated me to my promotion. All the police force seemed to know about it! Then we sat down in our new office and looked at the blackboard. Klaus and Bernd had entered the new facts that had emerged during Marion's interview and so we sat and just contemplated what we knew. As we sat silently there was a knock on the open door and two young men came in and it was immediately obvious, that they were brothers.
"Sigurd Stempel," the one that appeared the elder of the two introduced himself "and this is my brother Arne. And you are ... ?"
"Monika Schwedt" I said rising and holding out my hand "and this is Angela Liebetanz."
"Wow!" retorted Sigurd shaking my hand "I never thought to see a day when I would have a pretty girl for a boss." and while I blushed as usual he continued "And congratulations, Frau Kommissar!"
"Yes," said his brother "well done!"
"Grab some chairs, guys, and call me Monika, please. Everyone else does."
Angela and I quickly discovered, that under all professionalism and eagerness the brothers had intelligence, wit and a talent for the comic. We clued them up on all the evolutions the case had taken and told them of their role as bouncers in a brothel.
"How lovely!" laughed Arne and sang "money for nothing and the chicks for free ... "
We all laughed.
"Well," I said "not quite. First of all I am going to be one of the ‘chicks’ and I am certainly not free, and secondly the people we are dealing with are extremely dangerous, we think. So keep your wits about you and your fly zipped."
"So," asked Sigurd "what do you expect to happen?"
"If we can manage to keep the two arrested suspects from communicating, someone will turn up to check where they've got to. If they manage to inform anyone ... retribution. Whatever happens, our aim is to arrest any member of the gang that turns up and spies, threatens or else. Oh, and please, guys, equip yourself with backup weapons."
"Never go without." reported Sigurd and showed me a second gun in an ankle holster "My brother has the same."
"Excellent! I see Klaus’ reasons for recommending you. Welcome to the team. When you have said hello to Klaus and Bernd, come back to me before you go off duty until four, then meet me at Wohltorf. Angela will give you the address."
At that moment Harry came in and in his wake two women in plain clothes.
"Good morning Monika" he said "and what a pleasant surprise to find even more pretty faces in my station this morning. These two say you requested them."
"Good morning my dear Harry." I replied and hugged him, kissing him on both cheeks like a French girl.
He clearly loved that.
"What a lovely custom, I wish it would take, but only the French ... and you of course, Monika, know how to pull it off with grace."
The two women had watched with interested amusement in their faces while the Stempels looked on in awe.
"Kommissar Schneider, here, is the head of Davidwache and my most valiant champion, are you not, Harry?"
"Of course I am." he confirmed "I saw your potential from the beginning, my girl. Hello deserter" he said to Angela with a smile "Happy with your promotion?"
"Oh, certainly Herr Kommissar, I am so happy to be able to watch Monika’s back."
"I’ll leave you to it then. Keep me informed, Monika, will you?"
"If I still have time before my appointment with mister Goethe I'll see you in private for a moment, thanks Harry."
Schneider left at that and the two newcomers mustered me closely while Angela introduced them to me and then named everyone else present. Before I could start a conversation with them, though, Klaus and Bernd arrived, greeted the Stempels and were introduced to Hannelore Christen, a tall blonde of fashion model looks, and Marina Vogel, a small brown beauty who, I saw that at once, was in love with Hannelore, who in turn seemed happily and completely ignorant of the fact. Marina realised I had seen her secret and looked into my eyes and then at Angela. I nodded slightly, we understood each other perfectly without words. A good start.
Hannelore was the centre of attraction for all the blokes but made it perfectly clear from the start, that a fling with a colleague was completely out of the question. Another good start, I thought. I sent the guys to their own office and Angela and I had a more private chat with the two women. We told them about the case and I asked Hannelore if she was willing to sometimes take my role at the brothel. She looked at me with big eyes.
"You pose as a prostitute, Frau Kommissar, even though you are ... " she did not know how to finish and I saved her by saying:
"Not quite completely a woman yet? What has that got to do with anything? Have you never heard of transsexual whores?"
"What does your partner say to that?"
"Ask her." I replied, pointing at Angela.
Marina chuckled. Hannelore blushed. She did not dare to ask but Angela answered her anyway:
"I know she loves me more than anything or anyone and when she's had her operation she'll be all virgin and from then on all mine, so I do not mind."
Marina clapped her hands.
"You are wonderful," she said "I want to be part of your team, please, ... Monika?"
"A pleasure to be working with you, Marina, what about you, Hannelore?"
"Will I have to sleep with anyone?" asked Hannelore.
"No, not if you don't want to. The woman who runs the place will keep you away from the customer, if he insists. It is always the girls choice to agree or disagree."
She hesitated ever so slightly still, then said:
"Oh, what the heck, a girl has to learn things."
"That's the spirit." I laughed "Welcome to the team, you two."
"So," said Marina "what do we do now?"
"I think we’ll call the others and then my right hand, Klaus Fuhrmann will let us all know the latest developments."
Angela went to get the rest of the crew and while they all trooped in I had a closer look at the blackboard again. We actually knew quite a lot already, at least in the murder scenario. On the other hand we had yet a lot of blanks to fill where the protection ring was concerned. But I found the arrest of the two yobs quite encouraging, because it baited my trap. I expected the news of their arrest to spread not sooner but later and wanted to see who came to investigate the brothel for their whereabouts in the immediate future. I hoped for that to be rather revealing. If of course the news spread first, well, then we might be in for a rough ride. I therefore asked everyone about their proficiency with firearms, explaining my thoughts to the others.
"We may be in for a rough time, if this protection ring gets wind of the arrest." I said "So I want to keep Hannelore and Marina's identity under wraps, OK? Angela's may have already been betrayed by her presence at Biggi's boutique, so you two" I looked at Marina first and then Hannelore "are, for the time being, my strategic reserve. Since Sigurd and Arne are going to play bouncers, you will mainly be here to coordinate all information gathered by Klaus, Bernd, Angela and myself. But I want to know erverybody's combat skills now, please."
Interestingly enough those of Hannelore and Marina seemed to be the most variable. They were both advanced practitioners of Aikido, shot, if only in the shooting gallery at present, like olympic competitors and had had several special trainings in self defence for women. I made a mental note to ask them to give me and Angela a bit of a training session soon. Apart from Klaus and myself, none other had ever shot at a human being in a real life situation, so I thought it wise to have a little talk about it. Klaus and I conferred for a moment and then I summed up what we had discussed.
"You cannot really know how you'll react the first time if it comes as a surprise. We therefore recommend, that any member of this gang, suspected or proven, is regarded as armed and a potential aggressor, since we have plenty of rumours and one proof of extreme violence on behalf of this protection ring. We need to prepare ourselves to confront this violence, should it occur, with cold determination. We should, at all stages, discuss what we think possible to occur and what we feel adequate how to react."
All that should prove highly academical within a very short time. Wolfram had chosen the public defender well, together they managed in our interrogation to persuade our two dimwits to turn coats and become informers in return for reduced sentences and so no warning was passed onto the organisation. Unfortunately they were not able to supply anything useful other than that they were willing to testify, that they had dumped the body of Christiane, being terrified of what the boss would do, if they refused. They actually called him the Dracula. They confirmed that he had two Irish wolfhounds, so now we knew they were two dogs, a fact that Petra had not been able to conclude, but neither knew where his hideout was nor where he was from or from where he ruled his organisation.
They could only give us an address, where he had received them to hire them and where he had handed them the body. I suspected that there would by now be no trace whatsoever of him any more, a fact that was almost instantly proven by Klaus, Bernd and Willi and his team, who searched the place more than once and very thoroughly.
Dr. Weintraub, though, was at least able to match a DNA sample found in the empty flat with one found on Christiane, and whoever had not quite managed to pick up all dog hair, but the flat had been rented by a certain Sergeij Ivanow, who, as the landlord confirmed, certainly had had no dogs, because otherwise he would not have got the lease, the rent had been punctiliously paid into his bank by an Austrian trading company. The check of the flats recent telephone line revealed little other than two calls from the phone box around the corner from Schmidt’s flat, the trading company had miraculously vanished upon checking. These people were very clever and thorough. Our only hope was, that they would not abandon their prey: Marion.
So while Harry was grilling the janitor time and time again, Wolfram went over and over their statements with Fischer and co. and the rest of my crew canvassed the surroundings of the flat for more clues or witnesses, the Stempels and I settled into a routine at Marion's. Angela took over Biggi´s protection in the evenings and came with me to Marion's and, while I coordinated my team from there in the hours before I took my place among the girls, Angela patrolled the grounds. The second morning I decided it was time to get her another gun and holster, so when the time on the east coast of the US reached business hours I phoned the FBI in New York and asked for special agent Washington Farmer, who was, muchto my surprise, in his office. I gave my name as Monika Schwedt from Germany and was put through.
"Hello Frau Schwedt" came his voice over the line "any relation to Wolf Schwedt of Hamburg by any chance?"
"A very close one, brother bear, it's the wolf, how are the piglets?"
We had used that code for identification while I had been lent to NYPD on a narcotics case as undercover man.
"Shit, brother wolf, what's that about Monika Schwedt and why don’t I recognise your voice?"
"Well, threeB," I said using the nickname ‘Bad Black Bastard’ he had acquired in the East coast’s underground "I am Monika Schwedt because at this moment I am wearing a sexy grey dress, black self supporting stockings and grey peep toe shoes with four inch heels, not to mention the make-up and artificial nails plus red nail varnish."
There was a gap in the conversation. Finally he managed:
"I always knew your for a great one for disguises, but isn't that carrying it a bit too far?"
"Darling, it might be, were it a disguise, but I have had to realise I am transsexual and now I have become Monika, a woman."
His next reaction was quicker:
"Brother ... I mean sister, you are weird! How, when, why?"
"That is a long story I will write you a letter about. For now I have an urgent request: I need a Smith & Wesson like mine for my girlfriend urgently with a nice small clip on holster and some ammo, if you please."
"You want a gun for Birgit so that she can shoot you for your folly?"
"No, not for Birgit, she left me two years ago, for Angela, my new love and eyes in the back. I have been promoted, by the way, I am now the first female captain in Hamburg's police and Angela was a patrol woman until I had her made detective to join my team."
"Promotion seems to run in the family, then, I am special agent in charge now. And I have promised this redhead a special treat, so I will send the gun with diplomatic mail to the consulate and come myself with the girl to deliver it. Then you’ll have a lot of storytelling to do and give us a guided tour of the Reeperbahn, you weirdo. I'll let you know the details asap. Whom do I ask for on the phone?"
"Frau Kommissar Monika Schwedt, my HQ is Davidwache."
"You’d better be pretty, sister! Your girlfriend, she a dyke?"
"Sure, brother, like me, and she is pretty!"
"Sounds like I'll be showing off with three beauties in old Hamburg then. My readhead is a patrol woman too, you know, used to be a fashion model before she got bored to tears by it."
"I am looking very much forward to be seeing you again, brother bear."
"I can’t wait to see you live, sister ... Monika. Bye."
With that he had hung up. Angela had come in a while ago and now asked:
"Who's that brother bear then?"
"He's the FBI agent I have been on a case with in NY some time ago. I have asked him for a gun for you."
"A little Smith & Wesson like yours?"
"Yes my love and guess what, he has promised his new girlfriend a treat and that now is bringing her here to see this weird German cop who's suddenly a woman. He'll have the gun sent to the embassy and will pick it up there for us when he comes."
"When does he want to come?"
"If I know threeB any he'll be here the first time his girl can have a couple of days off."
"Why do you call him threeB?"
"He used to say of himself that he is a Bad Black Bastard with capital Bs in his undercover persona so everyone called him threeB. When we were on our joint venture we used brother bear and brother wolf as code names and our targets were the piglets."
"So, is he a Bad Black Bastard?"
"He is big and black and can be a right bastard when he needs to. He thinks I am a tough shit, so he’s a bit surprised at me being Monika now. He said I'd better be pretty."
"No worries there then, you are! And who's his girlfriend?"
" I don't know her yet, but she's a patrol woman from NYPD he's met on a recent case, says she used to be a fashion model until she got bored to tears by it."
"Sounds like interesting company, do we house them? We're rapidly running out of space in my flat."
"No, I'll put them up here, I think, if Marion agrees. That'll give them something to tell their grandchildren about, don’t you think?"
"Monika, your a mischievous little bitch sometimes. Won't that be possibly dangerous for them?"
"No, darling, only for anyone who wants to make trouble for threeB or me."
We settled down to a nice cup of coffee from the bar and discussed the interrogations going on. Then I asked Marion for a luxurious room for my guests and she was only too willing to have them. The rest of the day passed in routine and we went home early, Angela to meet Biggi and I to have an early night for a change.
By Friday we had pretty well established ourselves only none of us recognised him as such when the first spy came. I was sitting at the bar in my favourite clothes, the rose coloured sweatshirt and the black stretch miniskirt when he came in. I was not really watching the entrance, but the sudden hush that came over the girls made me look. He had an undeniable presence about him, but his expression of superior arrogance put me off. I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he scrutinised the assembly and then came towards me at the bar. As he reached it I looked up and bestowed my sweetest smile on him saying:
"Good day to you sir and what can we possibly do for you?"
"Wrong question." He replied.
All my defences went up and I replied with icy politeness:
"And what, in your questionable opinion sir, would have been the right question?"
He evidently did not expect that. For a moment there was anger in his eyes and then I saw him sizing me up as a challenge. I was not going to verbally fence with him, though.
"Ah," he replied " I was expecting you to ask what YOU could do for me, so I am disappointed."
"Well," I answered him with the same icy politeness "your manners are abominable and I don't do second class, I'm afraid!"
He acknowledged the hit and then, suddenly, his face lit up with a smile that, to my surprise, even touched his before so ice cold eyes as he said:
"I beg your pardon, Miss, you are right, my manners leave a lot to be desired. I have insulted you, I see. May I say to my excuse that I picked you as the most desirable of the present company and so naturally was unhappy not to find you immediately responsive?"
"You may well say that, but do you not know that even we have a dignity?" I retorted, but suddenly felt tenderness towards him arising in me.
"Desolé," he said suddenly in French "encore je demande votre pardon, Mademoiselle, l´Allemand evidamment n´est pas mon forte. Mes paroles paraissent impardonnables et mon comportement ... voila! abominable."
I have always thought French the language of love and so, when I answered him in that language, it gave me a totally unexpected pleasure and forced a genuine smile on my lips.
"Monsieur, je vois, que vous savez au moins vous comporter en gentilhomme aussi. Je attends votre offre de paix."
And to my surprise he surrendered. Still keeping to the French he said:
"Lovely lady, will you dine with me?"
"Of course I will." I replied, intent on keeping the conversation in French because he had this lovely accent that marked him out as a Russian. And then, on a wild impulse I chose the first Russian name that came to my mind.
"Sergeij, is it? My name is Monika."
His face went blank and he turned a very unhealthy white saying very coldly in Russian:
"You know me!"
I was shocked at his reaction but kept my voice sweet, replying in French:
"I am very sorry, if I have startled you, Sergeij! No, I do not know you, it was a shot in the dark, so to speak. I truly am sorry."
And I was, because I had physically felt the pain, that had been for the fraction of a second emanating from him. He recovered admirably.
"You are a very dangerous woman, Monika, much more dangerous than you think in a lot of respects. Your intuition is frightening. But I can feel you are honest with me and so I repeat my question: will you PLEASE dine with me at a place of my choice?"
I knew then, that his real question was would I spent the night with him somewhere else, and so I replied that in that case I would have to change and would he please be patient and wait for me with a glass of champagne for quarter an hour? He could hardly say no and so I had the time to change into the spare dress I kept in my room and leave a message on our answer phone for Angela and notify the Stempels to tell Hannelore to take my place.
When I came back to him all trace of whore had disappeared, I was wearing my French dress and the grey shoes held a small grey bag, that contrary to it's appearance carried all the necessities for an overnight stay, and my trench coat in my hand. I went up to him, took his arm and said:
"Please Sergeij, It would please me immensely, if we kept our conversation in French. I am ready."
"A pleasure, Mademoiselle Monique!"
There was something very nice in the way he pronounced the French version of my name. Also it was nice to have the polite formality of the vous but to be able to use the more personal first name as well. The French language is wonderful in that respect.
He took me to a small, very exclusive French restaurant that I did not even know existed. Evidently he was known there, because we were led to a small separate room, where everything was prepared for a candlelight dinner. The Maitre took my coat and pulled out my chair. As I sat Sergeij ordered a bottle of very exclusive champaign, that came almost immediately as he sat opposite me. Two glasses poured and the menus placed before us we were left alone. Sergeij surprised me by taking my hand and saying:
"Monique, you are the most feminine of women, because for you it is not an accident of birth, but the result of a choice."
I looked deeply into his at this moment unguarded eyes and was hit by so much pain that it took my breath away. Oh my poor Sergeij! I thought. What has this unfeeling if not cruel world done to you? Tears shone in my eyes as - on an other wild impuse - I said:
"Mon pauvre ami, je vous donne cette soiree et la nuit avec plaisir et de tout amitie de mon coeur!"
"That," he returned with ever so sad a smile "is much more than I would have dared to ask. You touch me deeply, Monique."
And his eyes were full of tears, too. We had our meal, but I think he tasted as little of it as myself. He, because he seemed more and more afraid of what was to come, and I, because I felt strangely elated, sensing that something almost miraculous was happening. He took me to his Hotel afterwards, the Vier Jahreszeiten, the most posh and expensive in Hamburg, and I was glad I wore what I wore, thus being able to pass muster with the receptionist. In his room Sergeij appeared suddenly almost timid and I took the initiative letting my intuition guide me. He went passive in response and so I was everything I could be with a clear heart: sister, friend, whore.
I did all the things I was not supposed to do as a whore. I kissed him tenderly on the mouth, I held him and comforted him, teased him, aroused him, made him come with my tongue. Spent, I cuddled him, talked softly in his ear and held him while he slept a troubled sleep. I myself could not sleep, because his pain was with me, I felt his heart not only broken but scattered and trampled upon, then suppressed and chilled to ice in his hope of being able to cope. Finally he had covered it with that supreme arrogance I had broken with a stroke of intuition and the love I felt for him. Yes, I loved that poor boy like an elder sister loves her younger brother. My poor Sergeij! And so I watched over his sleep until I felt the need to go home. As I stirred he awoke.
"You now leave me, because your heart belongs to another!" he said sadly.
"My poor Sergeij" I whispered softly "You are closer to my heart than any man will ever get. I love you like sister a brother, but my heart of a woman belongs to another woman."
He looked into my eyes then to see the truth and with a sigh replied:
"I will never forget this night in my life, even though you gave me back a heart that is so broken that I do not know if it can mend. But at least, touched by your incredible kindness and your love for life, I have it back and can try. I'll always love you for that, Monique. I will never be able to thank you enough."
We never spoke any more after that. I just had a shower dressed and left to go home and tell Angela all about this strange night. I found her still in bed, sleepily asking:
"What was all that about? Your message sounded weird."
"Well," I began "it was the strangest thing." and told her everything in as much detail as I could remember while I got undressed, slipped into my nightdress and into bed. When I had finished she was wide awake, looking at me with big moist eyes.
"Monika," she said "you are the most wonderful being I know. Make love to me."
And so I tried. In opening myself to the deep love we felt for each other I became able to cope, to digest what I had experienced that night. In giving myself up to Angela completely and receiving her unconditional devotion the pain I had felt in Sergeij drained from me, though it did not go away unnoticed by Angela. She held me almost too tight and whispered in my ear:
"Oh darling, this seems to be just an echo of what you felt in him and yet ... it frightens me. How did you cope?"
"I honestly do not know, darling, but it was good that he did not attract me in any other way as it happened. If I had truly loved that man as a woman loves a man ... that might have destroyed me!"
"Go to sleep now, my wonderful love." murmured Angela "You need rest! I'll watch over your sleep now."
And grateful I sank into merciful slumber.
The realisation where the Russian name Sergeij had come from hit me as I woke up. A man by the name of Sergeij had rented the flat Willi had been searching! Sergeij had been the spy! What had I done? Had I made the worst mistake of my life? Angela stirred besides me, woken up by my unrest. She asked sleepily what was the matter and was wide awake after my response.
"Darling don't fret!" she said soothingly "I don't think your instincts would let you down that badly."
"Oh love," I replied "I am suddenly very insecure about the whole affair."
Angela turned to take me into her arms and stroked my hair.
"Monika, my sweet, you have a better intuition than any of us. I am sure you've done the right thing. Don't go and confess your sins to anyone unless you want to try and talk to Dr. Baumann. I think, he'd be the best of your possibilities."
So after I had showered and had a cup of coffee I rang him at home. He was very understanding but could not see me today, he'd have an hour, though, on Monday morning at nine. Could I wait? What choice did I have? I agreed to a meeting at nine on Monday and he reassured me by saying, that if Angela was confident in my judgement she'd most certainly be right. I hung up feeling considerably better but not quite convinced. But it was time to go to Wohltorf and Angela decided, that she was to join me today. To feel as confident as I could I dressed again in my favourite dress, even though I had possibly committed a grave error in it.
I was by now quite good at making myself up and while Angela showered I made breakfast for the two of us, since Biggi had already gone a while ago to her shop. As Angela joined me in jeans and sweatshirt at the breakfast table we spoke simultaneously:
"You look ... "
Again, we stopped at the same moment and started laughing.
"You first." I said finally
"You look so sweet, honey." she said.
"You look very beautiful." I said smiling "let's eat."
We had a leisurely breakfast, then set off to Wohltorf in my car. We arrived as the business already was slowly starting. Marion greeted us at the door and took us into her office to inquire about my adventure. I had to tell someone about my doubts and so I told Marion, since I now trusted her completely. She smiled knowingly and said:
"You know, Monika, every whore has a bit of a mother Theresa in her. Yesterday it happened to you, trying to save a poor soul."
That finally made me laugh.
"Oh, Marion, you're a marvel." I said "Now I can laugh about it."
I was indeed relieved by her humorous interpretation and so I changed back into miniskirt and sweatshirt from yesterday and a while later I greeted the Stempels. We were about to take our usual roles, me just accompanying them to the entrance, when a big black limousine with tinted windows came up the drive. I discreetly retreated to Marion's office, but only minutes later Sigurd knocked on the door, stuck his head in and said:
"Sorry, Monika, there is a big guy who expressively asks for you."
Marion and Angela looked at me questioningly. I shrugged my shoulders.
"Show him in, Sigurd." I said and opened the door fully.
A very tall and muscular man, a giant almost, stood next to him. The man had eyes the most incredible blue and a presence that spellbound all females I was sure.
"I apologize if I am intruding." he said "I am Colonel Wanjakow from the Russian embassy. May I come in?"
"Certainly, Herr Oberst, said Marion. I am Marion von Willemse and this is ..."
"Mademoiselle Monique, qui aime le Francais, on me dit." broke in the colonel and continued in my direction "Ma chere, nous pouvons peut etre parler en prive? Je m'apelle Grishka."
"Grishka" I repeated savouring the name and liking it very much "Grishka."
I liked it even better when I said it more softly the second time and so I nodded to Marion, who had understood the French. As she left Angela was about to follow her but I motioned her to stay. As Marion had closed the door the colonel cast a sideways glance at Angela. I smiled at him and said in German to make it easier for my love:
"Angela is like a part of myself, anything you tell me I would share with her later anyway, so you might as well speak in front of her. But I must warn you Colonel, I am..."
Before I could finish he continued my sentence with:
"Frau Komissar Schwedt, only recently appointed, the first female and most probably the youngest person ever to make that rank in Hamburg."
He was playing his cards well, I could hardly keep my mouth from dropping open. He continued with:
"I am from what was the fourth bureau of the red army and responsible for security in our embassy. I also act as liaison to the Bundeskriminalamt. But I am here as a private person and would therefore like to keep on on a first name basis, if you don’t mind?"
"You've done your homework well, Grishka." I said pronouncing his name very softly again "But who told you I like to speak French?"
"Sergeij." he said simply.
This time my mouth did drop open.
"You may well be surprised." Grishka said "Hear the story."
And then he told us about their friendship, how he, Sergeij and a third guy called Wassilij had formed a bond already in the young pioneers and had later become practically inseparable friends in the army. Then Sergeij had fallen in love with Grishka's sister and had left the army so that they could marry. A few weeks later, as they had taken a short trip to their families, they had been ambushed, Grishka's sister raped and killed by three Kossaks in front of Sergeij and he then shot and been left for dead. There was an audible gasp from Angela and I had started to cry silently. Grishka said:
"I am sorry to burden you with this truly sad tale, but it is necessary to be able to understand what happened yesterday."
I now understood the incredible pain I had felt in Sergeij and so I listened attentively to Grishka's continued tale. Sergeij had only recovered because he was driven to revenge. He suppressed all his feelings and hid under the mask of supreme arrogance, that not even his former best friends could penetrate any more. Then a man who named himself Vlad Dracul had told Sergeij where to find the three Kossaks. Sergeij had killed them and the man had made the act vanish from all registers and so Sergeij had become the right hand man of the boss of a truly dangerous criminal organisation. He finished his narrative:
"You see, Monika, nobody was able to reach him any more. I lost my best friend and my sister, but yesterday, thanks to your incredible kindness, I got my friend back."
He came towards me and took both my hands. Even on my four inch heels I only reached to his chin. He lifted my chin looked into my tear filled eyes and smiled.
"I have no idea what you did and how you did it, you wonderful woman, but you managed to free Sergeij from himself or from what possessed him. He came straight to me and told me everything, only he never realised you were a policewoman."
"I was not." I said recovering my composure "According to Marion I was a whore with a Mother Theresa attitude."
He chuckled at that.
"Whatever, but if you were a whore you were certainly a most delicate one." Grishka said "You touched his heart and for the first time since the event he's crying over his loss. Also he has decided to presently vanish and turn informer on the organisation. So I am here now to thank you for the delivery of my best friend, to burden you with a legacy of his and to warn you of the Dracul. He is probably the most dangerous man in Eurasia and Europe."
"What a story!" sighed Angela.
"Yes," said Grishka "and only thanks to that incredible lover of yours it may have a happy ending."
I regarded Angela for the first time since Grishka had started his narrative. She looked at him with big puppy eyes and I was wondering if I looked the same. This guy touched a deeply hidden side of myself, a kind of desire, an unknown quantity. Did he do the same to her? Did he do that to every woman? Angela realised I was looking at her and smiled apologetically so I nodded and suddenly we understood, we were both equally attracted to him! I tried to brake the spell by asking:
"So what, dear Grishka, is that legacy of Sergeij's?"
"To finish the story," he replied "Sergeij was about to force three illegal Russian girls on Frau von Willemse under Dracul's orders. They were to serve as spies as well as as future blackmail material. He asked me to hand them into your care. I took the liberty to have the embassy issue legal passports for them according to which they are all over eighteen years of age. Nobody can say if they really are, nevertheless, but they are all three quite pretty. They'd need to sort of disappear quickly before one of the other agents of Dracul's involved in importing them can spot them. They are in the car."
"And they were meant to be sold as whores?" I asked aghast.
Grishka only nodded and I thought: oh my God, what had Sergeij been involved in? Angela said:
"I think we better get Marion into this as well."
I agreed and so I went to find her while Grishka got the girls. I asked the Stempels to help him get them in mostly unseen, now reasonably sure that there would be no immediate danger of another spy. Not before Sergeij's defection was discovered. They came in from the garden, the way we had eliminated our arrested suspects, just as Marion and I entered the room. I had briefly explained the situation to her. The Stempels closed the terrace door and returned to their post while we all looked at one another. I finally took the initiative.
"Hello," I said "I am Monika, that is Angela" pointing at her " and the lady is Frau von Willemse. Do you speak any German?"
"I do speak some" said the smallest, youngest and possibly prettiest of them "but I prefer the French. I know some English, too."
"Ah," I said "cheri, commend t'appelles tu?"
"Je m'appelle Sasha, mademoiselle."
"Call me Monika, please, my dear." I continued in French "who are your friends?"
"My sisters, miss Monika, the eldest is called Tanja, the other is called Irina."
On hearing her name she said in quite acceptable English:
"Yes, I am Irina." and pointing at her sister "She is Tanja."
Tanja evidently spoke neither German nor French or English and on watching her I got the impression, that she was as vain and arrogant as she was pretty. I asked Grishka:
"My dear colonel, would you care to ask the girl Tanja what she expects to do here?"
He did and translated the answer as:
"Make a lot of money and buy expensive clothes and jewellery."
Oh dear, I thought, she really could only become a whore. Marion seemed to come to the same conclusion. She said:
"I'll contact Domenica, Monika, and ask her to place her."
"Yes," I replied "that seems quite safe."
I looked at Sasha again. I liked her a lot, it felt as if we had a lot in common and then the realisation struck me: Sasha had to be exactly like me!
"Sasha," I said again in French "I am living with Angela here in a flat in town. Would you like to live with us?"
Angela shot me a questioning look and I nodded. Oh it was so good to be understood without words. Sasha looked at us searchingly and I opened myself completely to her wanting her to see my innermost secrets. We connected. She came towards me and hugged me fiercely.
"Mamushka." she whispered.
"My Sasha," I whispered back "your're home."
She started crying softly, big tears of joy. Angela and Marion looked at one another and Marion nodded. So she'd realised too. She now addressed Irina in English:
"Irina," she said "I cannot offer you to live with me as Monika has offered Sasha, but I would like to send you to a very good school in Switzerland, where you'd learn to be a sophisticated young lady. Would you like that?"
"I don't know." replied the girl honestly "I have never been without my sisters. Can I try it and come back if I don't like?"
"Of course you can, young lady." said Grishka looking at Marion willing her to let him conduct the negotiations "You'd get the best chances there to become a very eligible young woman and find a nice noble husband. You might even become a princess."
Ah, I thought, he's been listening to their conversations. What a sensitive and caring man he is. I really, really like him!
"Is that so?" enquired Irina happily "I want a nice noble prince."
"That school" put in Marion "is a school for young aristocratic women. There is surely to be a ball at the and of term and there will be a lot of nice young gentlemen."
That convinced Irina. Marion took her and Tanja to a bedroom upstairs that I discreetly marked as ´booked´ to let them settle there for a couple of days and I wanted to take the opportunity to ask Sasha some questions, but Grishka took me aside and said quietly:
"Monika, you are a truly marvellous woman. Sergeij has given me 50.000,- Mark of his money to care for the three girls he has stolen from a shabby suburb of Moscow. I think that should pay for the school and Sasha's operation. How lucky a child to find a foster mother who understands her so deeply and completely, don't you think? And there should be some left for clothes for the three of them, because they do not have any luggage."
So he knew, had he known all along or just guessed from my reactions? I had to ask. Angela was happily chatting to Sasha already. That girl was a true sunshine. I estimated her to be about fifteen. She was pretty at the moment but carried within her the promise of true beauty.
"Grishka" I started, but before I could continue he said:
"I very much like the way you say my name, Monika." and he made my name sound like a caress, too. "Unfortunately I have to leave now to keep this business as secret as possible. Will I see you again?"
"Any time you like, my hero!" I said smiling "And tell Sergeij the truth about me, I need to question him extensively and, please, do everything to assure him that I still love him like a sister loves her little brother."
"I'll try, but you'll probably be the only one to be able to really assure him of that. Come and get the money."
I told Angela that I was accompanying Grishka to the car and took his arm as he offered it to me. We walked silently to the car, where he gave me an attaché case. Before he could just get in and be driven off I jumped up, threw my arms around his neck and kissed him on both cheeks.
"Thank you!" I whispered.
Then he was driven off and I turned to find Sigurd and Arne smiling and Sigurd wagging an admonishing finger at me. I smiled back at them and returned to Angela and Sasha. The two of them looked at me as I came in and Angela said:
"I have told Sasha how you came to be a woman, now we were waiting for you so that we can hear Sasha's story too."
"Yes," I replied "I'd like that, but I have to put this somewhere safe eventually. I hope Marion has got a strongbox."
"Is Marion really some princess?" asked Sasha.
"Yes and no, my sweet, she is Marion von Willemse, Freifrau and Gräfin Schaumburg. She is noble, but no princess as such."
"Irina is going to be very happy! She dreams so much of marrying a prince."
"In that case she probably has a good chance to at least meet one. And if she puts in some effort at the school ... who knows?"
"But now, Sasha, tell us your story." demanded Angela.
So she told us. How she grew up with a single mother and her sisters, her mother always short of money, so as the youngest she had to wear the clothes her sisters had outgrown. Only when she got to school age she got a set of boy's clothes, but at school she realised, that only learning, and learning well and a lot at that, would get her out of the misery and so she put all her effort into learning. But only some of the girls really paid attention in class and the other boys started teasing Sasha and calling her a sissy and worse, so she reverted to girls clothes and was, after quite a struggle, finally accepted by kids and teachers alike.
Her notes were so good that she was later sent to the equivalent of a secondary grammar school, where she delighted in being able to learn French and German and English. When Tanja started earning money with whoring and Irina started on the pill, Sasha, now eleven, decided to start on the pill too, because she planned to earn money like her sisters and so she thought she'd have to take the pill too. Irina advised her to take the Diane 35, because she would not develop any spots, and so Sasha's voice had never broken and she had had a relatively normal puberty as a girl. Her figure certainly was quite prettily female and her face I thought would be stunningly beautiful soon.
Then came a most disturbing part of her story. When Sergeij had first appeared she had immediately seen through his arrogance and realised the poor hurt soul thereunder and fallen in love! Did I know where she'd eventually be able to find him again? I was speechless for a moment and Angela looked worried.
"Eh bien, mon chou," I answered her finally "je le sais, mais ecoute mon histoire a moi."
And so I told her what had happened between Sergeij and myself, what Grishka had told me and who I was and why she was now here. Sasha started crying the moment I told her about the rape and murder and her eyes went wide with incredulity when I told her I was a cop and a high ranking one at that.
"And for him you became a whore!" she said softly crying "He must love you now."
"Oh no sweetheart, I rather think he is very much ashamed now and anyway, I told him right away that I love Angela and that he can only ever be like a younger brother to me. But you are taking on a difficult task, if you try to win his love, darling, because you'll be competing with a ghost, the ghost of Grishka's sister."
She smiled through her tears.
"I am not afraid of ghosts!" she stated.
"No," I replied "you are a brave girl and such a pretty one, too."
She came to me and hugged me again, not so fiercely this time, and murmured:
"I am so glad, that you replace my mother now, and I like your Angela very well too. I'll be very happy with you, I think."
"You'll be happy and you'll be a complete woman. Grishka has given me the money for your operation."
I deliberately did not mention that it was Sergeij's money.
"Yes, little beauty, the operation that will turn your sex into that of a woman."
"You mean I can be made to look like Irina between my legs?"
"That is exactly what I mean." I had to smile.
"So I'll be able to look into his eyes when we make love?"
"If you win his heart one day ... yes."
"Oh Mamushka, that is so incredible!" she exclaimed hugging me a third time "I'll be able to see him as he takes me for his woman!" and after a moment's thought "Will you one day be a complete woman, too?"
"Of course, Sasha, Monika will grow breasts and hips like any other woman and then her operation will give her a vagina and she'll be all virgin and mine." Angela answered in my stead.
Sasha looked from one of us to the other and sighed:
"How marvellous, how absolutely wonderful."
At that moment Marion came back into the office.
"I've left the two of them to choose some clothes for tonight." she announced "What have you been up to?"
"I will tell you in a couple of minutes," I replied "but we need a few words in private, Marion."
She shot me a questioning glance. I shook my head and she accepted without further questions. I picked up the case and we went to my private room. There I told her about the money and said:
"I have no intention whatsoever to let this information get any further than you me and Angela. Can you imagine the bureaucratic nightmare it would create?"
"Oh my god, yes! What do you want to do with it?"
"Pay for Irina's school, Sasha's operation and Tanja's clothes. Have you got a safe, Marion?"
"Yes, Monika, shall I keep it there?"
"Please, if you don't mind."
I took three thousand Mark out of the case for some clothes and then I gave it to Marion. She took it and left the room saying:
"See you downstairs in a couple of minutes."
I returned to Angela and Sasha in the office, where Marion joined us almost immediately. Evidently her safe was not in her office, but I did not ask where it was. Marion got out her Cognac and said:
"I do not know about you three, I do feel like a nice drink. Want to join?"
"Oh yes, Marion, please." I replied remembering the taste and smell from last time.
"You don't have some Vodka by any chance?" was Angela’s response.
"Of course I do, dear," said Marion "and what would you like, Sasha?"
"Oh Madame, could I please have a glass of champagne, I've never had any."
"You certainly can, my little one, I will get a glass from the bar, OK Marion?"
"Yes certainly, Monika, and get a Vodka for Angela as well, if you please?"
"Neat, darling?" I enquired.
"Yes please, my love, you know what I like."
I went to get the drinks and have a short look around. Everything was fine and Sigurd gave me en encouraging nod as if to say: relax, we've got it all under control. So I went back into the office and relaxed with a tumbler of Marion's exquisite Cognac. I was sure that there would be no unpleasant surprises at least today, people would be waiting for Sergeij's report. What a development the case had again taken! I now had an inside witness to question and how that witnesses appearance and it's consequences had shaken up Angela's and my private lives!
Obviously I had to get in contact with Klaus and tell him all about the last day's events. We needed to question Sergeij, but I wanted to do that in private with nobody else present but Angela and possibly Grishka. Just as I thought about him the phone rang and it was Klaus.
"Hi Monika," he said "all is well I hope?"
"Well?" I asked back "I don't know yet. First I have to make sense of the last days events, I think."
"Before you go into any detail, Monika, there was a guy on the phone just now, said he was a special agent in charge and that he had a message for sister Monika. He and Maureen will be at Hamburg airport on Tuesday morning at quarter to nine."
"Jesus!" I sighed "That puts the crown on everything!"
"Who is he?"
" FBI special agent Washington Farmer, whom I privately asked for a favour. In return he wants to hear my story straight from the horses mouth and brings his new girlfriend with him into the bargain!"
"As if you did not have enough on your plate as it is."
"Well, Klaus," I sighed again "you don't even know yet how much! Let me fill you in."
And so I told him about my night with Sergeij in not too much detail and what had come out of it: the girls, the appearance of Colonel Wanjakow and that I would question Sergeij at the earliest possible opportunity. Klaus proved very wise.
"I think we should keep this Sergeij secret as long as we can. You never know in what funny channels information leaks out. I will keep this to myself. Thanks for your confidence, Monika, I really appreciate that. Let me just tell you that I do not want you to leave the place again in unknown company, OK? Will you promise that?"
"I promise, Klaus. You are wonderful."
I had the funny feeling that this time it was he who was blushing. I continued.
"You really are, you know. I am very happy to have you on the team."
"And I am happy to go home until Monday. You've got my private number, I hope?"
"Sure, we’ll all meet for a briefing on Monday, I’ll leave you a note when."
"See you then, I hope, and not before, for all our sakes."
"Bye, Klaus, enjoy your day off."
"Thanks, Monika, Bye."
As I put down the receiver I realised, how much I myself needed a bit of a weekend. I asked Marion if it'd be fine with her if Angela, myself and Sasha went home for the Sunday and she was quite happy do do without me for a day, since she had Sigurd and Arne there and the chances for anyone else from the protection gang coming were remote if anything. Angela nodded happily consent and so Sasha, her and myself took our leave at half past six. We were all rather quiet on the way home, each of us probably pondering the implications of today's events and Sasha looking out of the window at her first sight of the city.
"There is so much water here!" she exclaimed finally as we arrived at the Aussenalster to turn into Sierichstrasse.
"Oui, mon chou, il y a plus de ponts ici que a Venise."
"Really?" she inquired in the same language.
I could see that Angela was lost in thought and so I kept the conversation in French saying:
"In actual fact Hamburg is a lot bigger than Venice, there are the rivers Elbe, Alster and Bille and lots of canals, so we have almost twice as much bridges as Venice."
"It is all so well kept and clean!"
"Yes, I love that about Hamburg too."
We were by now driving down Sierichstrasse and I slowed to start looking for a space to park. Sasha marvelled at the Art-Deco buildings we were passing and clapped her hands as I said that she'd be living in one of them now. That woke Angela from her thoughts and we both watched for somewhere to park near to her flat. That found we walked to our entrance and started up the stairs, Sasha's eyes wide in wonder at the antique opulence of it all. We had hardly reached the flat and said hello to Biggi when the phone rang. I snatched at the receiver.
"Hello pretty lady." the caressing tones in Grishka's voice sent shivers down my spine "I need to get our friend to a safe haven soon, so we thought you might want to see him again tomorrow. We'll come to your office, that seems remote enough for nobody to pay any attention at lunchtime. I've been informed that reports were not due before Friday next, so we should be undisturbed. Is that OK with you, little one?"
I felt relived at this information but much troubled by the feelings his caressing tones and all too familiar terms caused in my stomach: butterflies!
"It is the colonel." Sasha stated matter of factly but grinning.
"Yes, darling." I nodded to Angela pointing at the second headset.
"Oh," came from Grishka "you call me darling?"
"Not you, silly, I was talking to Sasha. We have only just come through the door."
"In that case I'll leave you to your well earned rest, pretty lady, and see you tomorrow at eleven chez Marion."
"Thank you, Grishka." his name came out like a caress again.
"Je vous en prie, ma chere."
"Au revoir, beau colonel."
"Au revoir, belle commissaire."
As I put down the receiver Angela shot me a questioning glance.
"He will bring Sergeij to Marion's so that we can question him, then he'll hide him away somewhere to be debriefed in security, I suppose. So there goes our weekend."
"And our peace of mind. We need to talk about this Grishka person, my love." said Angela.
"We do, don't we? I am completely confused about my feelings, darling."
"Yes, my sweet, so am I. I never expected to fancy a man like him."
"Neither did I expect the same of me. He cannot touch my love for you, but he attracts me, I have to admit. And I like flirting with him."
"Well, I would not push him off my bed either. I propose you a deal: if ever we are going to make love to him we do it together or not at all."
"Never been more so."
"Then it's agreed." I settled the matter.
Biggi had been watching Sasha and the exchange between Angela and myself with interest. Now she asked:
"Who, may I ask, is this pretty young thing and who is this Grishka person?"
Before either of us had a chance to reply Sasha answered her:
"I am a legacy of Sergeij's, so to speak, my name is Sasha and Monika has sort of adopted me. Grishka is Colonel Wanjakow's first name and he seems to have a way with certain women, Monika and Angela being among them, I fear."
I was truly surprised by the girl's acute perception as well as by her directness.
"That, unfortunately, answers questions Biggi did not ask, my little love." I chided her gently. "This, anyway, is Biggi, a friend we have made in the course of this investigation who needs protection. This" I continued towards Biggi "is a sweet young woman named Sasha, who was stolen from Moscow to be sold as a whore. The Colonel sort of rescued her by taking her to me at Marion's, and, as Sasha has said, I more or less adopted her."
Since we were still standing in the hall Angela suggested sitting down somewhere and having a glass of wine, then some food and finally a chat. Everybody agreed that that was a sensible plan. I did not feel like cooking at all and so Biggi suggested a pizza service. She took Sasha with her to the Kitchen to show her the menu and Angela and I retreated to the lounge, where I kicked off my shoes and settled on the settee with my legs up. Angela snuggled up next to me.
"What pizzas?" shouted Biggi from the kitchen.
"Double mushroom, double ham and double cheese." I shouted back, and as Angela nodded I added "Two of those, honey, and bring a bottle of white, please?"
"Already opening." was Biggi's laconic comment.
Sasha appeared in the door while Biggi was speaking to Smiley's on the phone.
"You really can order individual pizzas over the phone and they deliver them? They don't arrive cold?"
"No, my Sasha, more often than not they arrive quite warm and on days like today it's a god sent, I assure you."
Sasha came to us and settled in front of me on the floor, resting her arms on my knees and looking up into my eyes. She smiled.
"Mamushka," she said "the beau colonel has turned your head and Angela's too, has he not?"
"Yes, my sweet, you are perfectly right, he has turned my head, but my heart still belongs to Angela." I answered.
"That, my love, is a very nice way of putting it. I just hope he stops there."
"We will have to tell him so very firmly tomorrow, darling."
"Yes, Monika, we will."
Sasha had watched our exchange with wide eyes and observed:
"You must be very much in love with each other, if you can discuss this in such a fashion."
"I love Angela more than my life." I confirmed for her "I could not be without her."
"The same applies for me, little Sasha." added my love.
"Disgusting, isn't it?" shot Biggi giggling from the doorway carrying a tray with the wine, four glasses and knifes and forks.
Sasha was not used to that kind of humour and so Biggi tried to explain, but Sasha could not yet get it. I told her it was a silly joke and not important and then went into a recital of all events unknown to Biggi. Before I could tell Sasha everything about how we'd met Biggi Smiley's arrived and we settled down with our pizza cartons and glasses of wine to eat. Soon a second bottle was opened and we were suitably relaxed. After I had cleared the boxes away Angela and I took turns to tell Sasha about the case and how we had met Biggi and what had followed. By the time we had explained all a third bottle had gone the path of all earthly things and I was quite tired. So, everybody confirmed, were the others, too.
We sorted Sasha out with a nightdress of Angela's and were just about to start clearing the last bedroom when Sasha asked suddenly shy:
"Can I sleep in your bed the first night, please, Mamushka?"
And there she was again, the young girl far away from home. I asked Angela with my eyes and she nodded ever so slightly so I took Sasha in my arms and said:
"Of course, my little one, you can share our bed."
"You see, we always shared a bed, Tanja, Irina and I."
"Well," I replied "we will make you a very nice bedroom of your own next, but for a night or two you are welcome in our's."
So I put my arms around her shoulders, that suddenly seemed very small and frail, said good night to Biggi, and led her to our bedroom, where I simply dropped off my clothes and slipped into my nightdress while Angela went to remove what was left of her make-up and brush her teeth. I went to find a spare toothbrush for Sasha while she got undressed and then showed her where things were in the bathroom. Very soon I found myself firmly squashed between Sasha and Angela and went happily to sleep.
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