Rebekka Franck Series Box Set, Page 2Willow Rose
“I know very well how powerful you and your family are. But we are far away from your thugs; and I will have killed you by the time they get here.”
Didrik put the phone back in his pocket. He now sensed the boy was more serious than he first anticipated.
“Do you want to kill me? Is that it?”
Didrik laughed out loud. It echoed in the hall. The boy did not seem intimidated. That frightened him.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You are such a fool. A complete idiot. You always were.” Didrik snorted. “Look at you. You look like a homeless person in that old school blazer. Your clothes are all dirty. And when did you last shave? What happened to you?”
“You did. You and your friends. You ruined my life.”
Didrik laughed again. This time not nearly as loud and confident.
“Is it that old thing you are still sobbing about?”
“How could I not be?”
“Come on. It happened twenty-five years ago. Christ, I didn’t even come up with the idea.” Didrik snorted again. “Pah! You wouldn’t dare to kill me. Remember I am a nobleman and you are nothing but a peasant who tried to be one of us for a little while. You can take the boy away from the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the boy. You have always been nothing but a stupid little farmer boy.”
Didrik watched the boy lift his right hand, revealing a thing from his past, something he couldn’t forget. With a wild expression in his eyes, he then moved the blades of the glove and took two steps in Didrik’s direction with them all pointing at him. . It scared the shit out of him. It had been years since he last saw the glove and thought it had been lost. But the pretty boy had found it. Now the game was in the boy’s court.
“I can give you money.” Desperately, he clung to what normally saved him in troubled times. ”Is it money you want? I could call my secretary right now and make a transfer.”
He took out the iPhone again.
“I could give you a million. Would that be enough? Two million? You could buy yourself a nice house, maybe get some nice new clothes, and buy a new car.”
The boy in front of him finally smiled showing his beautiful bright teeth. Phew! Money had once again saved him. At least he thought. But only for a second.
”I don’t want your blood money.”
Didrik didn’t understand. Who in the world would say no to money? ”But …”
”I told you. I want you dead. I want you to suffer just as I have been for twenty-five years. I want you to be humiliated like I was.”
Didrik sighed deeply. “But why now?”
“Because your time has run out.”
“I don’t understand.”
The boy with the pretty blue eyes stepped closer and now stood face to face with Didrik. The four claws on his hand were all pointing towards Didrik’s head. The boy’s eyes were cold as ice, when he said the words that made everything inside Didrik Rosenfeldt shiver: “The game is over.”
LARI SOERENSEN enjoyed her job as a housekeeper for the Rosenfeldt family. Not that she liked Mr. Rosenfeldt in particular but she liked taking care of his summer residence by the sea. They barely ever used it, only for a few weeks in the summer and whenever Mr. Rosenfeldt had one of his affairs with a local waitress or his secretary. He would escape to the house in Karrebaeksminde for “a little privacy” as he called it.
But otherwise there wasn’t much work in keeping the house clean, and Lari Soerensen could do it at her own pace. She would turn on the music in the living room and sing while she polished the parquet floor. She would eat of the big box of chocolate in the kitchen. She would take the money in the ashtrays and the coins lying on the shelves and put it in her pocket knowing the family would never miss it. Sometimes she would even use the phone to call her mother in the Philippines, which normally was much too expensive for her. Her Danish husband didn’t want to pay for her phone calls to her family anymore, and since he took all the money she got from cleaning people’s houses, she couldn’t pay for the calls herself.
It was a cold but lovely morning as she walked pass the port and glanced at all the yachts that would soon be put back in the water when spring arrived. All the rich people would go sailing and drinking on their big boats.
She took in a breath of the fresh morning air. She had three houses to clean today and she would begin with Mr. Rosenfeldt’s since he probably wouldn’t be there. It was only five thirty, and the city had barely awakened. Everything was so quiet, not even a car.
She had taken a lot of time to get used to living in the little kingdom of Denmark. Being from the Philippines, she was used to a warmer climate and people in her homeland were a lot more open and friendly than what she experienced here. Not that they were not nice to her—they were. But it was hard for her to get accustomed to the fact that people didn’t speak to you if they didn’t know you. If she would talk to a woman in the supermarket she would answer briefly and without looking at Lari. It wasn’t impolite; it was custom. People were busy and had enough in themselves.
But once people got to know somebody they would be very friendly. They wouldn’t necessarily stop and talk if they met in the street. Often they were way too busy for that, but they would smile. And Lari would smile back, feeling accepted in the small community. If people became friends with someone they might even invite them to dinner and would get very drunk, and then the Danes wouldn’t stop talking until it was early in the morning. They would tell a lot of jokes and laugh a lot. They had a strange sense of humor that she had to get used to. They used sarcasm all the time, and she had a hard time figuring out when they actually meant what they said or when they were just joking.
But Lari liked that they laughed so much. She did too. Smiled and laughed. That’s how she got by during the day, the month, the year. That’s what she did when the rich white man from Denmark came to her house in the Philippines and told her mother, that he wanted to marry Lari and take her back to Denmark and pay the family a lot of money for her. That’s what she did when she signed the paperwork and they were declared married and she knew her future was saved. She smiled when she got on the plane with her ugly white husband who wore clogs and dirty overalls. She even smiled when he showed her into the small messy house that hadn’t been cleaned for ages and told her that was her new home. That her job would be to cook and clean and be available to him at any time. She was still smiling, even at the end of the day when she handed over the money that she earned from housecleaning while her husband sat at home and was paid by the government to be unemployed. And when Mr. Rosenfeldt grabbed her and took her into his bed and had oral sex with her she still smiled.
Yes, Lari Soerensen always smiled. And she still did today when she unlocked the door to Mr. Rosenfeldt’s summer residence.
But from that moment on she would smile no more.
I AWOKE feeling like I was lying under a strange comforter in a foreign place in an unknown city. Slowly my memory came back to me, when I looked at my sleeping daughter in the bed next to me. When I came home from work she told me the first day of school had been a little tough. The teachers were nice, but the other kids in the class didn’t want to talk to her and she had spent the day alone and made no new friends. I told her she would be fine, that it would soon be better, but inside I was hurting. This was supposed to be a fresh start for the both of us, a new beginning. I now realized it wouldn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped.
My dad had prepared a nice breakfast for us when we came downstairs. Coffee, toast and eggs. Soft boiled for me and scrambled for Julie. We dove into the food.
Before mom died he wouldn’t go near the kitchen, except to eat, but things had changed since then. He’s actually gotten pretty good at cooking, I thought while secretly observing him from the table. Ever since his fall down the stairs last year, he had to use a cane, but he still managed to get around the kitchen and cook for us.
w, Dad, with me in the house you could catch a break every once in a while. I could take care of you, and cook for you instead.”
He didn’t even turn around, but just snorted at me. “I know my way around. You would only mess the place up.”
Then he turned around, smiling at Julie and me, and placed a big plate of scrambled eggs on the table in front of us.
I sighed and rubbed my stomach.
“Sorry, Dad, I’m too full. Julie, go get your bag upstairs. We are leaving in five.”
Julie made an annoyed sound and rushed up the stairs.
My dad looked at me seriously.
“She misses him, you know,” he said nodding his head in Julie’s direction. “Isn’t it about time she got to call him, and talk to him?”
I shook my head. I hated that she had told her granddad she missed her father. Since I couldn’t leave my job until late in the afternoon, he had suggested he would pick her up every day and they could spend some quality grandpa-granddaughter time together catching up on all the years they missed of each others’ lives. I liked that, but I didn’t care much about him meddling in my life.
“I can’t have him knowing where we are.”
My dad sighed. “You can’t hide down here forever. If he wants to find you, he will. Whatever happened to you up there, you have to face it at one point. You can’t keep running from it. It will affect your daughter too. No matter what he did, he is, after all, still her dad.”
Now it was my turn to sigh. “Just not right now, okay?”
As I got up Julie came down and dumped her bag on the floor before sitting down again and taking another serving of eggs.
Where she would put it in her skinny little body I didn’t know but I was glad to see her eat despite being so nervous about another day alone in the schoolyard with no one to play with.
“She must be growing,” my dad said with a big smile. “That’s my girl,” he said and winked at her.
I looked at the clock and decided that I too had the time to sit down for another minute. The radio played an old Danish song from my childhood. My dad started humming and tried to spin around with his cane. He almost fell but avoided it in the last second and we all laughed. I began to sing along too and Julie rolled her eyes at me, which made me sing even louder. The old cat stopped licking herself and stared at us from the window. She would probably be rolling her eyes too if she could.
It was one of those beautiful mornings, but a freezing cold one too. The sun embraced everybody, promising them that soon it would triumph over the cold wind. Soon it would make the flowers come out of hiding in the ground and with its long warm arms it would make them flourish and bloom. I really enjoyed my drive along the ocean and the sandy beach. The ocean seemed angry.
I had promised headquarters to do a story today, an interview with an Italian artist, Giovanni Marco, who lived on Enoe, a small island close to Karrebaeksminde. It was connected to the mainland by a bridge. The artist had made a series of sculptures that made the public angry because of its vulgarity. The artist himself claimed that it was his way of making a statement, that art cannot be censored. He had displayed the sculptures in the county’s art festival, shocking the public and making people nauseous from looking at them.
He was the same artist who once had displayed ten blenders each with one goldfish in them in a museum of art, waiting to see if anyone in the audience would press the button and kill the fish. He loved to provoke the sleepy Danes and outrage them. At least they then took a position and cared about something. I remembered he said he wanted to wake them from their drowsy sleep walk. I was actually looking forward to this interview with this controversial man on the beautiful island.
Giovanni Marco lived in an old wooden beach house that looked like it wouldn’t survive if big storm should hit the beach. Fortunately big storms are rare in Denmark. We had a big one in 1999 as strong as a category 1 hurricane. It was still the one people remembered and talked about. It knocked down trees and electric wires. At least one tree hit a moving car and killed the driver inside. That was a tragedy. It could definitely get very windy, but the artist’s house would probably stand for another hundred years.
Barefooted, he welcomed me in the driveway with a hug and a kiss on my cheek, which overwhelmed me since I had not been happy about male physical contact lately. So I’m sure I came off stiff and probably not very friendly toward him.
He was gorgeous and he seemed to know that a little too well. I never liked men who thought too much of themselves, but this one intrigued me anyway, which made me nervous and uncomfortable in his presence.
His blue eyes stared at me while he invited me inside. It’s rare for an Italian man to have blue eyes like that, I thought. Maybe he had Scandinavian genes. Maybe that’s why he had escaped from sunny Italy to cold Denmark where the sun would hide all winter. His hair was thick and brown and his skin looked very Italian. But he was tall like a Scandinavian. And muscular. I hated to admit it, but it was attractive.
Inside I was stunned by the spectacular view from almost every room in the house: views of the raging ocean, of the wild and absorbing sea. I used to dream about living like that. Well I used to dream about a lot of things, but dreams have a tendency to get broken over the years.
Giovanni, in a tank top and sweatpants, smiled at me and offered me a cup of organic green tea. I am more of a coffee person, but I smiled graciously and accepted. We sat for awhile on his sofa, glancing out over the big ocean.
“So you have just returned from the big city?” he asked with an irresistible Italian accent. His Danish was good, but not as good as I expected. BI had read that he had lived in the country for more than 30 years. “What made you come back?”
News of my return traveled fast in a small community, I knew that, but how it got all the way out here, I didn’t know. Overwhelmed by his directness I shook my head and said, “I missed the silence and the quiet days, I guess.” It wasn’t too far from the truth. There had been days in the end, when the city got to me, with all its smartass people drinking their Coffee “Lattes”. It used to be just coffee with milk. I didn’t get that. But then again I didn’t get sushi either. Even in the center of Karrebaeksminde they had a sushi restaurant now, so maybe it wasn’t a big city thing.
“I miss that too when I’m away from here.” Giovanni expressed his emotions widely with his arms, the way Italians did. “Especially when I go back to Milan. I get so tired in the head, you know? All those people, so busy, always in a hurry. To do what? What are they doing that is so important?”
“I wouldn’t know,” I said knowing that I used to be one of those busy big-city people always rushing off to something. Rushing after a story to put on the cover. Never stopping to feel the ocean breeze or see the flowers pop up at spring. But I wasn’t like that anymore. I had changed. Having to go off to cover the war for the newspaper had changed me. Being a mom changed me. But that was all history.
I began my interview with Giovanni Marco and got some pretty good statements, I thought. I began to see the article shape in my head. But it seemed more like he wanted to talk about me instead. He kept turning the conversation to me and my past. I didn’t like to talk about it, so I gently avoided answering. But he kept pressing on, looking me in the eyes as if he could see right through me. I didn’t like that and he began to annoy me. His constant flirting with me was a little over the top. Luckily, my cell phone started ringing just as he began asking about my husband.
“I better take this,” I said.
“Now? In the middle of our conversation? Now, that is what I think is wrong with this world today. All these cell-phones always interrupting everything. People using them on the bus, on trains, in the doctor’s waiting room, rambling about this and that, and playing games. God forbid they should ever get themselves into a real conversation. They might even risk getting to know someone outside their own little world.”
He got up and looked passionately in my eyes, and I couldn’t help s
miling. He was indeed over the top, but it was sweet.
“Now, tell me, what could be so vital that it cannot wait until we are done?” He thrust his long Italian arms out in the air.
“It might be about my daughter,” I said and got up from the couch.
It wasn’t about Julie. It was Sara from the newspaper. She was almost hyperventilating, trying to catch her breath. She was rambling.
“Take it easy Sara,” I said while holding a finger in my other ear to better hear her. “Just tell me calmly what is going on.”
She took a pause and caught her breath. “A dead body. The police found a dead body. I just heard it on my radio.”
“Are you kidding me? That’s like the biggest story of this century down here.”
I didn’t get it. Normally when we received news like that at my old newspaper they just put in a small note on page five, and that was it. If the police thought it was a murder and an investigation took place we would make a real article about it, but still only place it on page five. And Sara didn’t even know if it was considered to be a murder case or not. It was just a dead body. For all I knew he could have died of a heart attack.
“Don’t people die in this place?” I challenged.
In Aarhus people died every week. With the gangs of immigrants fighting the rockers people got shot and stabbed all the time. Of course they would bring the story if a dead body was found. But it wasn’t like it was one of the big ones.
“He might have fallen drunk or even had a heart attack,” I said trying to close the conversation. “I will call the police and get something for a small article when I come back, okay?”
”No, no, no. It is not okay at all. I called Sune. He is already on his way down there. You have to be there before anyone else. I got this from the police radio, remember? That means no one else in the country knows anything yet. It is what you would call a solo story.”