Biggi showed up soon afterwards and had to be told what happened. I had decided not to tell her the whole truth. I did not want her to worry. Sasha – of course – had already heard it. When Grishka and I had finished the tale as a natural death Biggi was relieved in two respects: I had not killed the bastard but he was dead nevertheless.
Smiley’s had arrived almost in the same minute as Biggi, so Sasha and Oleg set the table, while Grishka and I had been telling the story and finally we were able to sit down and eat. Evidently Pizza service was a novelty for Oleg and when during the meal I offered to share her bed with Sasha and for Grishka and him share mine so that Oleg could have however much wine he’d like, he suddenly got a little shy.
“Monika, I do not want to deprive you of the opportunity ...”
“Nonsense,” I replied with a grin “or do I look so desperate to you?”
He did not quite know what to reply. Sasha came to his rescue.
“Mamushka, are you picking up manners from Esme? Oleg is such a nice guy, do you have to tease him like that?”
That didn’t help though, as I saw Oleg now being embarrassed about a girl coming to his rescue. I realised, that he wasn’t used to having three women around, who were evidently slightly tipsy and quite open about their feelings. So I relented and excused myself:
“I am sorry, Oleg, I think my teasing went a little too far here. I think it is very kind of you to care about me spending time with Grishka, but there is a serious hindrance here for us to get too close. I will not explain to you what it is, but both Grishka and I will be waiting for a bit longer, before … you know. But if you are uncomfortable with sleeping in one bed with your boss, we'll make you a bed on the couch.”
Grishka was smiling all through the exchange and now Oleg was smiling, too.
“You are very kind,” he said “all of you. So different to the women I know. I happily accept your offer. Grishka and I have slept under much worse conditions.”
“At least the bed will smell of you.” Grishka threw in.
“You!” I chided him and playfully punched his arm.
He grabbed me and sat me on his lap, caressing my face.
“You know how much I love you, little one. I will be longing for you.”
“I know, my love. But you know what we promised ...” I replied “but that doesn’t mean I do not miss you too.”
And with that I kissed him gently on the lips and he kissed back just as gently.
Sasha was looking on with big eyes.
“Have you been to see Angela? What did she say?”
“Yes, little Sasha,” Grishka answered her “and we told her that we’ve been faithful to her and your mother’s promise, both of us. Nothing has changed.”
“You told him?” Sasha's voice was full of wonder, then she looked at Grishka before she continued: “And you accepted that, just like that?”
“Yes, princess,” Grishka replied “I did. I love Monika and I love Angela And I love you, too, my girl, but like a daughter. My love’s beautiful daughter.”
And that was the first time I saw Sasha blush.
“Thank you,” she said demurely “what did I do to earn that?”
“You make Monika happy and proud.”
Sasha blushed even more deeply and for once was lost for words. I got off Grishka’s lap and hugged her tightly.
“He is right, you know. You are making me happy and proud. And you are getting more beautiful by the day.”
Sasha started crying and I joined in. Finally all the fear and tension of the past months caught up with us.
“Mamushka.” Sasha sobbed “I was so afraid.”
“So was I, sweetie. Grishka is a god sent. I would not know what I’d have done without him.”
“And yet you did not sleep with him?”
“No and Yes, my darling, I slept in his arms two nights, but we just slept. We both stood up to the temptation, after I had told him the truth.”
“The truth?” Sasha asked “What truth?”
“The promise and that I want to wait until … and that I’d want his child, if that were at all possible.”
“Instead, Sasha,” would you at least accept me as sort of a father?”
Sasha looked at both of us wide eyed.
“It would be a great honour, if you accepted.” Grishka continued and then came to hug the two of us together.
“Will you, my beautiful daughter?” I asked as well.
Sasha cried even harder and Grishka held us until she calmed down.
“I already thought myself the luckiest girl in the world to have found a real mother. Now I have a family, a mother, a father and an aunt, The world could not be more kind to me, ever.”
Grishka gently kissed her forehead and whispered:
“Thank you, my wonderful daughter.”
Now even Oleg had tears in his eyes. After all he’d been present, when Grishka had been handed the stolen girls by Sergeij and later when Grishka had left them at Marion’s. So he knew the whole story.
“Well, If this is turning into a family reunion,” Biggi said grinning “why not add uncle Oleg and auntie Biggi into the equation?”
That finally got all of us laughing, but then Sasha looked seriously at Oleg and asked:
“Would you like that? I know Biggi would. And so would I.”
Oleg did not think about it for a moment, he caught the energy of what was going on and asked Grishka:
“Would that make us brothers, boss?”
“Yeah,” Grishka replied “ThreeB calls me brother already anyway, so why should you not? What do you think, sister?”
“No problem here, brother.”
That settled it. I filled all our glasses again having to open the last of the bottles and sent Sasha to get the Vodka. This was going to be a real celebration.
The night had been short, but I felt obliged to be early at Davidwache on Tuesday morning to give the news to my team and Harry. I wasn’t all that sure yet, whom to tell the truth. Harry, yes, Marina, too, but I wasn’t sure about anybody else. On the way I decided on Klaus, too, but from the rest I would keep things secret. I did not want to test their morals. With Klaus I knew that even if he’d not approve, his loyalty would assure his silence. Harry and Marina would approve. I was sure of that.
I had let the others sleep, even Sasha did not realise I got out of bed, and I had taken the precaution to put clothes for the next morning in the lounge, before everybody went to bed. I had left a note for Grishka to come and pick me up for a shopping spree in the afternoon. After all I had earned myself a little break.
I entered Davidwache at about a quarter to eight and found Harry already in his office. I asked the desk sergeant to announce me and went straight up. He was in the door of his office when I came up the stairs, wearing my nice grey dress and the matching pumps, the trench over my arm. Harry looked me up and down smiling.
“Monika! How nice to see you dressed as a lady for a change.”
I kissed his cheeks as usual and thanked him demurely:
“Thank you Harry, you’re sweet.”
“What circumstance do we owe the honour?”
“Of the dress?” I asked smiling “Grishka is taking me shopping this afternoon.”
Harry’s eyebrows went up.
“What is going on, girl? What about Angela?”
“Oh, we are going to buy her a dress, too, as a surprise.”
He shook his head, looking confused and motioned me to come into his office. I sat down straightening my dress’ skirt under me and crossed my legs like a proper lady. He sat down, too, and looked at me asking:
“So, what did your trip bring?”
I sighed deeply and began:
“I am not sure, if you will like this, Harry.”
Then I went through the events from the moment I boarded the plane. When I got to the threats and confessions in the interview he went quite pale and asked:
“So, where is he now?”
“In his coffin. I realised, I could not let him be turned lose again, ever. So I had Grishka turn off the equipment and provoked him until he had a brain haemorrhage. Then we put him back in his cell. He was dead in the morning. Official verdict natural causes.”
Harry was very quiet for a while. Finally he looked up from his hands that had been clenching his pen for a couple of minutes and into my eyes, there were a lot of mixed emotions there. I could see that he didn’t know what to say.
“I am very, very sorry, Harry, if I have disappointed you. But I simply could not take the risk to let him get away a second time.”
“What does Grishka say?”
“I have not yet finished with his confessions, have I? That bastard organised to have Grishka's sister raped and murdered in front of her Husband Sergeij, Grishka's best friend and he told me that he’d have the same done with me. I got so very angry and so very cold blooded after that, he did not have a snowball’s chance in hell to get out of there alive.”
Harry was white as a sheet.
“I cannot believe what you are telling me, Monika. That is just monstrous.”
“Worse! I hope you understand what I had to do.”
“Oh Monika, I am so sorry for you. How are you going to live with that?”
“I have nor regrets whatsoever, Harry. I told the boss, too. He allowed me to tell you the truth, but it is not going anywhere outside this room. I had to swear that.”
“Of course, Monika. Thank you so very much for your confidence, may God forgive you.”
“I am pretty sure that I have rid the world of a monster, Harry. I will face the consequences, when the time comes, whatever they are.”
“I can only repeat how sorry I am, Monika, that you of all people had to go through this. I never expected something like that to be possible.”
“Shit happens, Harry. Thank you for sharing this. I will talk to my team now. Oh, and I think we have a lead to the mole in the BKA.”
“He was calling the boss yesterday when I was there to tell our president what an ambitious and over zealous bitch I am and that I am completely mistaken about Vlad and that there is no organisation whatsoever. Evidently Wassilij had kept the news from spreading.”
“Good, get him Monika. I hate traitors.”
“Will do, Harry. Thanks again, I hope you can cope.”
“If you can, girl, I will be able to, too.”
“You'’re a real sweetheart, Harry, do you know that?”
With that I got round his desk and kissed him on the forehead. Then I went down to my own office, where I found almost all of my team. Before I went into any explanations, though, I asked them for a moments patience and rang the boss to ask him for Kerstin Wenner. He was busy, so I told his secretary what I had in mind and she promised to tell him first thing when he’d be free. She’d call me back with the details I had asked her for and the answer from the boss, she said.
So now I turned to Klaus, Bernd, Hannelore and Marina, the Stempels still being at Wohltorf. I decided to wait a little longer before recalling them, just in case. I’d ring Marion later to tell them to contact me, though.
“Hi guys, I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want first?
They looked at one another not knowing what to expect. Klaus took the lead saying: “The bad news first, Monika.”
“OK,” I said “I did not manage to bring him back. The good news is that he died at night in his cell of a stroke, before his protector in Moscow could do anything to free him.”
They could not believe what they had heard. I could see that Marina had some suspicions, but she kept quiet. Our understanding without words surprised and delighted me. Everybody else shot out questions at the same time, so I told them about the interview and what Dracul had confessed. There was a stunned silence.
“Well, at least he’s out of circulation now.” Klaus said.
“Yes,” I said “once and for all. But it’s not over yet. Grishka is hunting his protector and we will be hunting the mole in the BKA and Hugo's boss in Vienna. I have asked for another woman for our team, Kerstin Wenner. She’s young and has got a lot of promise. I hope she’ll fit in well. Then we will be balanced again until Angela’s return. That might still take a while though, but she definitely is on the mend. I saw her yesterday after I got back, even before I gave my report to HQ.”
Marina came and gave me a big hug, then whispered in my ear:
“How did you do it?”
“I’ll tell you later in private, honey.” I whispered back.
“OK,” I told them “I do not know about all of you, but I am exhausted, to say the least. Grishka is picking me up after lunch. I am happy for everyone to have a couple of days off in a short rota. Are you OK with that, Klaus?”
“Sure, Monika, I think we all can do with a bit of slack. All we have to do is get together with Wolfram for the assassin. We are not sure what to do with him. Could ThreeB take him off our hands?”
“If his identity can be confirmed the FBI is going to kiss our feet to have him, and the same applies for NYPD. Did you send the prints?”
“His prints were etched away, but we sent some DNA samples to special agent Farmer.” Klaus said.
“Fine. It might not be long then. Does Wolfram know?”
“No, Moni, not yet.” Klaus replied.
His return to the shortened version signalled the return to normality between us. I sighed with relief and he smiled.
“You can say that again, Klaus. I’m knackered.”
“Well, than lets get some work done and then I’ll keep the fort for a couple of days, while you take time off. Then it will be me to do so.”
“Thanks, Klaus, you’re a star.”
My guys all came over to me to say thank you for some time off and we worked out a schedule.
Then Klaus and I retreated to my desk to ring Wolfram and told him all that had been going on. Afterwards I took my leave from Klaus and asked him to talk to the boss if he rang and ask for Kerstin as well as taking down the details of our new target. Then I asked Marina if she would have lunch with me. Fortunately Hannelore was happy to go on leave immediately, as she had some private business to take care of and we were just on our own. I saw it to be still early, so I rang Nil and got a table for Marina and myself.
“Nil?” she said aghast “isn’t that a bit expensive?”
“My treat, Marina.”
Then I told Harry that I’d take a couple of days off and asked the desk sergeant to tell Grishka where to find us. Marina and I walked to Nil and I filled her in on what really had gone down in the last couple of days. I told her everything, even about my attraction to Grishka and Angela’s and my promise to one another. Marina was grinning from ear to ear.
“How I wish I could have watched you, Monika. That was some feat!”
“Oleg said that was the smartest kill he's ever experienced.”
“Grishka's right hand and chauffeur. One of the two guys with the sniper rifles.”
“Oh, I see.”
“You’d like him, Marina. But first today you are going to meet Elisabeth and Irene. And some time in the no too distant future I’ll have to introduce you to Esme. She’s something else all together, just don’t let her intimidate you, then you'll be fine. She’ll probably ask you if you're a dyke like me, so don’t be shocked. I have told her nothing, though, but she is highly intuitive to say the least. And she likes to use that to shock people. But now you’re warned. She might 'see' that, too, though.”
Marina could not help laughing. “You like her a lot though, don’t you?”
“Yes, honey, she is a great character and likes the same operas I do.”
With that we had arrived at Nil. Elisabeth was happy to see me and immediately asked how things were going. Irene came to give me a hug and kiss me and so did Steffen, both of whom I introduced to Marina. The two of them were so sweet together and so happy. I was glad to be able to spend some time with my extended family again and Marina seamlessly fit in.
Of course I had to fill Elisabeth, Irene and Steffen in on what had happened. They were still absolutely horrified at what had been done to Angela, but also happy to hear she was on the mend. I gave them the sanitised version of the events in Ukraine and everyone agreed, that it was for the best to be rid of Vlad. I had to promise Irene to make it possible for her to visit Angela and Marina wanted to do that, too. I knew my love would be very happy for the company and love from the two of them. Now that the Vlad was dead and his organisation without head and under pressure from Interpol, Grishka and me, I thought we could safely have people visit Angela, as long as we did not publicly announce her “resurrection”. I did not plan on that for a while yet.
Marina and I had very nice lunch and Grishka arrived at about half past two. Grishka had Oleg and Sasha with him and so we still had coffees and Sasha had a mousse au chocolat as a treat. Then we said good bye to Marina, who also was to have some time off, and went into the city for some shopping. Grishka was good to his word and very patient, while Sasha and I were looking for a skirt and jumper for myself and a nice dress for Angela. A visit to the shop, where I had bought my “French” dress proved to be very enjoyable.
Colette, the little French seamstress got called out into the shop and was over the moon with Grishka and myself speaking French with her. She showed me some skirts that were exactly what I was looking for but instead of rose or pink I went for a darker green and a very soft Cashmere pullover in a dusty pastel green with a large soft collar, that fell in a nice curve onto my small breasts, making them look more prominent while giving just a hint of a cleavage. It would be sensational once I was fully developed said Colette and I did not doubt her, after she had persuaded me to put on a heavily padded green lace body stocking she quickly had prepared, while I was trying on the skirt and jumper. When I came out to show myself to Grishka he was surprised to say the least and could not take his eyes off my new cleavage. The colours suited my eyes to perfection. I felt like a princess, even though the clothes were the typical style for Hanseatic understatement. Esme would love them.
Colette remembered Angela well, she said, and found a very nice summer dress for her, that would enhance and accentuate her lovely figure. Grishka bought everything and a lovely dress for Sasha on top. Both of us hugged and kissed him to say thank you. Finally satisfied he left the shop with a happy woman on each arm and was envied by most of the guys just coming from work in the city. We must have looked like something out of a celebrity magazine with our expensive clothes and shopping bags. We decided on a late visit to Angela and another night in, this time with Indian take away.
Angela was very glad to see Sasha and us and we told her about the new family with dad, mum, two aunties and an uncle and for the first time since the assassination she had a really happy smile on her face. This time we did not meet professor Doehn, but the nurse told us, that if she came in regularly for her physio, Angela would be able to go home in a week’s time. I could not have been much happier. My love would be coming home soon!
On our way home I had Oleg do a detour and stop at the take away outlet, that belonged to the Indian restaurant on Eppendorfer Markt. I got an assortment of Indian dishes that were new to Sasha and Oleg. Grishka had tasted Indian food before, but not as authentic as what we got. I knew the place was excellent, as I had spoken to many a sanyasin, who had been to India and confirmed, that the food served in this restaurant was authentic. So we had chicken tikka massala, lamb biryani, corma and pilau rice, naan and raita as well as some plain rice. I ordered three portions of everything, so that we'd sure have enough and perhaps some to spare for tomorrow. I was planning to have another day off with Grishka and Sasha before I was going into the chase of the mole.
The next morning I invited Grishka, Oleg and Sasha for a nice long walk along the Elbe, because the weather was too nice to let the opportunity pass. I took them by tube to Landungsbrücken and from there by boat to Blankenese. From the pontoon at Blankenese we walked along the river towards the city and I told them about my childhood with the harbour still working with people to unload the ships rather than container lifts, with beefy little tugs manoeuvring the large seagoing vessels, as they were much less manoeuvrable then without the more modern technology of water jets in the bow and such like. There had been a time, when some 80,000 people went to work in the docks every morning, shipped back and forth by more than a hundred ferries of various sizes as well as the more than fifteen regular ferry lines, that worked the Elbe with fixed stops alternating on either bank.
While I was reminiscing about the harbour we enjoyed a nice walk towards Altona and the old fish market, that now was only a tourist attraction on Sunday mornings from 6 am with fish from the North sea, since the fish caught in the Elbe estuary had long since lost the possibility to be food, unless you were called Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) and into nuclear or toxic chemical waste for sustenance, hoping to turn into an alien monster by eating it. The water of the river, but I think I mentioned that before, looked like flat coke. That did not damage the beauty of the cottages and houses of the retired seagoing captains, that were built over time along the bank, though. It was and still is today a lovely walk.
We finished up at the newly opened Ferry terminal of the DFDS Ferries’ line to Harwich in the UK and took a taxi back to Sierichstrasse, where I warmed up the left overs from last night and baked some pre-baked Naan, that I like to keep handy for such instances. It turned out a nice buffet for lunch and I had some Ice cream in the freezer for desert, too. As there was still the need to inform so may people of the events of the past week I decided that today was the day of Esme's visit to Marion's, as that way I could tell all the remaining interested parties about it in one go. I rang Johann and asked him to organise his mother to accompany him to Wohltorf, so that both of them could hear the story, as told to Marion and her girls as well as the remaining two guys of my team, Sigurd and Arne. It was no surprise that Esme was free, Johann was a man of leisure anyway and was looking forward to chat over a bottle of champaign. I then rang Marion to book a light supper for all of us and that settled the matter of what to do that evening.
We did not have all that much of the afternoon left and that time was passed visiting Angela showing off our new clothes and presenting her with her new dress. This time it were only Sasha and myself, that Oleg took to the clinic, as Grishka was busy making arrangements to go back to NY, which reminded me, that he had never really explained what ThreeB and he had been doing during the time I heard nothing, only to be called to Warsaw before six in the morning.
When we arrived back at the flat to get ready for the evening, the phone rang and it was Veronika in tears. Oh my god, I had totally forgotten about her. She had gone to California for ten weeks for a training at the Esalen institute and now just come back. Checking recent news she found out about Angela being dead and must have been devastated. That put a spanner in the works, or did it?
“Vroni, Vroni, calm down.” I said soothingly “Are you at home?”
“Yes,” she sobbed “how are you coping, Moni?”
“Darling, there is so much to tell, can I send you a driver to pick you up and get you here? Dress for going out.”
“You are going out?” she asked aghast “after what happened?”
“Vroni, trust me. Everything is all right.”
“But… but...you PROMISED to look after her...” more sobs.
“Vroni, please, please just trust me. Oleg is going to be there in 20 minutes. He’ll explain and wait if you’re not ready.”
“Who’s Oleg, for god’s sake ...”
“Veronika,” I said possibly a little too harshly “trust me. He’s the driver. Everything is all right. I just can’t explain over the phone, OK?”
Oleg was already getting up and looking at me expectantly.
“Oleg, it would be very kind of you, if you went and got Veronika. Please tell her about the ruse. She’s a dear friend of Angela’s and was in the US until today.”
“Here’s the address,” I had scribbled it with her name down on a piece of paper next to the phone “Just tell her about the ruse, OK? I’ll fill her in on the rest together with everyone else this evening.”
“Sure, Monika. I’ll be right back.”
Poor Vroni, I thought, what a shock that must be! I hoped she was not too freaked out, but I knew Oleg to be good at his job, so I was happy he was going to get her here. Would things ever calm down again? Then I realised, that she was still on the phone.
“Vroni?” I asked “Will you be OK for a moment? Oleg’s just left. He’s a very good and competent colleague. I will explain everything to you, and then we are going out for a meal.”
“Oh… OK, I’ll try to believe you.”
“See you in a bit, sweetie. Everything IS all right.”
We ended the call there and Sasha and Biggi, neither of whom had ever met her started asking about her. I filled them in on most of it, not mentioning the affair the two of them, Angela and Vroni, had had, and why it had ended. But I told them about her profession and how she had helped me to cope the day after my first experience at Wohltorf. This promised to become an interesting evening. I made a mental note to tell Marion to give Veronika a free escort for the night, if there was a girl that was willing and took her fancy. But that would have to remain our secret, and ours only, for the rest of our lives. Having it all thought through I finally had a moment of leisure to think about what to wear. When I had taken the decision I was grinning as I dressed. It would be interesting to see Esme’s face. Grishka would love it. I was going to wear my rose coloured sweat shirt, the black stretch mini and really high heels.
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