‘What’s the meaning of this, Mister de Tavernier?’ Katarina deliberately didn’t use his military title. Looking at her eyes, Jean-Pierre noticed she was furious. He really could understand her reaction. Katarina had gone through different emotional climaxes. A roller coaster of feelings, a ride full of terror and fear. It was only the silent threat of the gun, Jacques casually held in his hand, that stopped her from throwing herself on the man with the glass of champagne.
General de Tavernier kept undisturbed hearing the pressing question of the woman. ‘No drama, please. Jacques, will you put your pea-shooter away before accidents happen. After all, I had asked not to arrest attention. We don’t have to give the Parisian police cause to put their nose in our business.’
Jacques put the gun in his holster and looked straightly in a hostile way at Jean-Pierre and Katarina. ‘I thought they wouldn’t have come with me otherwise, General. After all, it was the intention that I brought them to you and not that they would run away from us, wasn’t it?’
The General pathetically sighed. ‘Okay, now that we are here cozily and relaxed together, I want to everybody to be comfortable. Katarina, Jean-Pierre, I don’t mean you any harm. Jacques has always been a bit more dynamic and you, Katarina, should know that.’
Katarina’s old friend furrowed his brows for a moment but eventually left it for what it was. Obviously, the remarks of his employer had gotten through and his glance softened a bit. He still hadn’t handled his defeat at ‘Le Tapis Rouge’. His big ego had been hurt and no one could change that, not even the General.
‘I only know and I want to emphasize it, that we had nothing to do with the raid on the castle. Jean-Pierre nor I have informed the police. It has to be someone else. Actually, it does surprise me, you think that way about me, General. I vouch for Jean-Pierre with my life. If you should know what he has done for me lately, you also would be convinced of it.’
With a smile on his face, the General filled three glasses. ‘Here, drink something to calm down and to renew the friendly relations. I say this Katarina because I know you have nothing to do with that.’
‘But…,’ Katarina looked surprised at him, ‘if you know we’re innocent, why all these secretiveness and our experiences with Helga and Irene in the SM-club? They didn’t seem so friendly after all.’
The army officer made a theatrical gesture with his hand as if he wanted to wave her remarks away. ‘At the start, I have to admit, I had doubts about your friend, Jean-Pierre. Of course, it didn’t help Jacques fueled the fire and I regret that I maybe have acted a bit foolhardy.’
Jacques grumbled under his breath and took a big gulp of the offered glass of champagne. The two lovers unconditionally had refused their glass.
‘In the meantime, we have found the culprit. It was the Madame Thérèse’s driver. He was on the payroll of the French Minister’s friends. Yes, indeed, the man of the tapes.’
Katarina and Jean-Pierre began to relax. It seemed the blame on their good name had been cleared now. The jigsaw pieces started to fit together. Madame Thérèse and her contacts with the French Minister, the driver in the service of the gangsters and next the subsequent raid on the Chateau, everything fitted was clear now.
‘I see you understand now how things are and that I don’t have a special animosity towards you. But, tell me honestly, how is Beatrice?’
Katarina looked at him in an examining way. She noticed his facial expression was rather worried. She had that much insight into character that she knew that it wasn’t played. Maybe they had found a strong ally. She decided to tell him everything. About their adventures after their escape from ‘Le Tapis Rouge’ and about their meeting with the gangsters who had kidnaped her mother. They made their story shorter by not dwelling on their adventures how they had got hold of the tapes, they only said that they had them in their possession.
‘Good, very good!’ The General obviously enjoyed the way they had handled the situation. ‘You have dealt with it in the right way. I was aware of the fact that something had happened with Beatrice. Her kidnapping at the Courthouse told me enough. Considering the murder of Monsieur Charles, there certainly were criminal elements after these events. From this, it clearly follows that they knew about your plans. Unfortunately, I have to assume that these same people have put a tail on you lately. Consequently, they should have followed you to the Moulin Rouge and they know that you’re in this limousine right now.’
They were startled by the reasoning of General de Tavernier and both Jean-Pierre and Katarina looked anxiously at each other. ‘What do you mean, General, are we in danger?’ ‘What do you mean, General, are we in danger?’
‘Don’t panic, I’ve taken precautions and I expect every moment a phone call from one of my men who are in another car.’
His words weren’t cold yet, or his mobile buzzed in his inside pocket. It seemed as if his accomplice had waited for his signal to call him. He took the sound-making device out of his pocket, flipped it open and listened to it for a moment. ‘Alright… good… put them away safely.’
Two pairs of eyes looked at him.
‘Your shadows accidently have collided with two of my men, figuratively speaking of course. They have been detained in detention and we are lucky, they haven’t contacted anyone in the last hours. I had given the instruction to watch if you were followed from the Carlton to the Moulin Rouge. So yes, I knew in the meantime you were there. Maybe the next time I would take a less conspicuous hotel if you want to keep a low profile. In short, I asked my men to check the last messages on their mobiles and their last one was when you left for the Moulin Rouge.’
Katarina sighed. She was happy having told everything and she was also reassured that Jean-Pierre’s name was cleared. ‘And now, General, what do we now? Will they not kill my mother now that they haven’t any contact with our shadows.’
‘No worries, tomorrow morning the two villains will come awake with a wooden head and will establish that their money, their credit card, and their car will be stolen. An ‘accidental’ witness will tell them what she has seen after they were knocked down and sedated. Why should they doubt the words of a teenager? Certainly, if this one is very convincing, considering the reward I have given. It will be handled as a simple robbery for the money and the car.’ She saw in the General’s eyes, he was running the show and she didn’t have to fear for her mother’s life. ‘That’s good, thanks, but what’s the next step? Will these kidnappers let my mother go in exchange for the tapes? Both my mother and we have seen their faces. I know this kind of people, they are not afraid to retaliate.
A cool glance glided upon the eyes of General de Tavernier. ‘That’s why we’re going to plan how we can Beatrice back out of the hands of these gangsters and put them behind bars. I fear you still have to play a role in this, but be reassured, I faced a lot worse in my days. These people don’t know with whom they are dealing with… but it won’t take long before they’ll experience it.’
© Rudi Lejaeghere