|Primary Characters:||Thomas La Cour, Allan Fischer, Julie Faber, Adam Faber, Nikolai Faber, Alice Faber, IP Sorensen, Nazim Talawi, Michael Kristensen, Ditte Hansen, Malene Bork, Patrik Larsen
|Description:||The same cops who saved Julie and Jimmy are back at the hotel, this time staking out some weapons dealers. Again, La Cour finds out that the hotel isn’t a good place for a man with his abilities. When they catch their bad guys, Adam has gone missing and they have to find him before it’s too late. Crossover with Unit One, The Eagle and Defense.
Adam heard the phone ringing. Once. Twice. Three, four, five times. There was a click and though he had begun to guess that Maria wasn’t going to pick up, he had time to hope, before he heard the answering machine’s monotonous voice.
“You have reached the answering service for (Maria’s number). Leave a message after the beep.”
Though he didn’t think it would do any good, he began to plead with his wife.
“It’s me. Please, get in touch. I have to talk to you. You can reach me here at the hotel or on my mobile -”
There he was cut off and he fell silent. He remained sitting, receiver in hand, for a while before he remembered to terminate the call. He might as well call the phone company – Suddenly he thought he heard some kind of whisper in the receiver, and he listened up. He couldn’t hear what the voice was saying, and he wasn’t even sure a human was behind the sound. In any case, it vanished so soon he wasn’t sure what he’d heard.
For a while longer he listened carefully, but he couldn’t hear anything else, so he hung up and began to search for the card that had been on the desk a moment ago.
Maria’s absence made him feel vaguely unsettled and when he least expected it, a deep concern filled him. Like now, when he should be working, or at night when he should have been asleep, but wasn’t always able to. Just like Maria he’d grieved over the baby they had wanted so much, but who never seemed to be born, but at least they had each other. They weren’t so old they’d have to give up hope of one day becoming parents, one way or another.
But Maria hadn’t been able to handle the latest miscarriage. She had escaped back home, to her parents – or was she somewhere else? He was wondering if perhaps she’d gone off somewhere, on her own. Maybe she was going to start a new life, somewhere else, without him. These days, the fear of haaring from a lawyer, rarely left him, now that Maria wasn’t even accepting his calls.
The sound of raised voices from outside broke into his sombre thoughts. He thought he recognized his mother’s voice and then there was another, deeper voice, that had to belong to a man. A guest? His constantly irresponsible little brother, Nikolai?
He might as well go outside and find out. With a sigh, Adam got up and walked towards the door.
His mother was over by the stairs leading up to the second floor, apparently trying to calm John down. Adam swore under his breath. Just what they needed. Their odd caretaker making a scene in the middle of a lobby filled with guests.
When he got closer, he heard his mother’s voice.
“Calm down, John. This isn’t the time -”
“But you have to do something. It’s a warning. The hotel -”
“Yes, yes. Perhaps we should discuss this inside the office?”
By now, Adam had arrived. He tried to herd John towards the office, but the older man cowered back, pointing upwards.
“What is it now, John?”
“The hotel is upset. Something is going to happen.”
Adam took a deep breath and tried to collect himself. This was the last thing he needed on top of everything else.
“Ok. Thanks for the warning. I’ll keep my eyes open. Can you tell me what I’m looking for?”
John watched him with eyes that seemed to see right through Adam’s fake reassurances, then shook his head, turned abruptly and began to walk up the stairs.
When he was out of sight and earshot, Alice turned to her son.
“He showed up just as I was about have breakfast. I tried to make him lower his voice, but you know what he’s like.”
“I’m sure you did what you could, mum. Go and have breakfast now, and we’ll discuss this later.”
Alice watched her son carefully. She knew that he was upset about his wife’s absence. Maria had been gone for quite a long time now, and Alice had her own ideas about that. She was sorry her children couldn’t seem to be happy. Maybe it was her fault. She’d been married to one man, while bearing another’s children and – If her weaknesses had affected the children, she’d never forgive herself. But she kept her thoughts to herself.
“I’ll relieve you or Julie later.”
“Thanks, mum. That’s kind of you, but I don’t need any time off right now. Maybe Julie – or you could help me with the accounts.”
“Alright, I will.”
Alice disappeared in the direction of the dining room, and Adam was about to return into his office, when he caught sight of Nikolai coming down the stairs. What was he doing up there at this time of the day? Adam frowned.
Nikolai waved at his brother and almost-ran across the lobby, exactly what Adam didn’t want his staff to do. He might as well hear what his younger brother wanted too.
“I have to tell you something.”
“Oh. Shall we go into the office then?”
Nikolai glanceda the clock on the wall above the lift, then nodded.
“Sure. I have to get back to the bar, but you have to hear this first.”
They entered the office and Adam closed the door behind them. He sat down behind the desk and watched his brother inquiringly.
“What’s it about?”
“It’s room 235. I told you when they checked in, that there was something weird about them. Julie seemed to agree with me.”
“I see. Ok. So what’s happened now?”
“It’s empty. They’ve moved out.”
Adam considered. The two men with Eastern European names, had paid in advance for a whole month. As far as Adam could remember, it had only been just over a week. In a way, there was no harm done. They could do as they pleased. If they preferred to pay for a whole month, but only stay for a week, it was their own business. On the other hand, not if they were planning a robbery or some other crime. The Faber mustn’t be associated with anything criminal.
“I don’t know what we can do about it, but – I suppose we can take a look inside their room -”
“Or call the police. What was the names of those two who saved Julie and Jimmy from that madman?”
“La Cour and Fischer, I think.”
“Maybe they could check it out, sort of half unofficially. Julie said they were quite nice.”
Adam face heated up. Julie had also said she suspected there was something going on between those two cops, though one of them was married and had children. The other guy had a son too. Odd, but Julie, being an actress, had a vivid imagination. Adam hadn’t sensed anything unusual about those two. They were nice and discreet and they did save Julie and Jimmy.
“You might be right. I guess I’ll try to get hold of one of them, or maybe – perhaps you need to do this officially. I suppose we’d better err on the side of caution. These days you can’t be too careful.
Nikolai smiled approvingly and hurried off to the bar. Adam tried to remember what he had been about to do when he’d been disturbed by John’s nonsense. Oh, right. He was going to make a phone call. Then he’d have to see about getting in touch with the proper authority about those Eastern Europeans.
The phone was ringing persistently. La Cour looked up and grabbed his mobile phone. It was four thirty. Unusually early for Marie to call on her team, but something urgent must have come up. He put his mobile phone down and picked up the receiver before the twins or the boy woke up. It was already too late to spare Helene an early awakening.
“Marie? What’s up?”
“Remember those weapons dealers? The ones we were after this autumn?”
“They’ve been seen at the hotel where you and your family were staying before. The – Faber.”
“I was thinking we just can’t afford to miss this chance. They’ve left their room, but apparently it’s been booked for a whole month. More than two weeks more. So I was thinking we’d take a look. Would you and Fischer do that? If it turns out to be worth our while, you can have Michael and Nazim too.”
“Ok. Sure. No problem. Want me to call and book a room?”
“Go and speak to the boss. Adam Faber, I think his name is. And – Julie Faber. Husband and wife?”
“No, brother and sister.”
“Oh. Then you’ll be out there, around eight?”
La Cour pondered the case he’d just been given. In a way, having to return to the hotel would be unpleasant, but he was hoping the unusual sights and sounds he’d experienced wouldn’t repeat themselves.. Then it hit him that Marie had wanted him and Fischer to handle the case. Did that mean Marie had learned the truth about the relationship between him and Fischer? Had Ingrid or IP told her?
But he forced himself not to get ahead of himself.Just because Marie had mentioned Fischer, didn’t necessarily mean she had made the connection between them. His train of thought was broken off by his wife, whispering into his ear.
“Was that about a case?”
“Yes. Marie wanted me and Allan to go out to the Faber again, in connection with an earlier case. Nothing to worry about. We’re just doing a stakeout. If it turns out to be serious, we’ll get backup.”
“I see. How do you feel about going there again? The last time, you experienced some unusual phenomena, didn’t you?”
“Well, yes, but that’s ok. This time I’m sure it will be different, and in any case I can handle it. Don’t worry about me.”
“Well, of course I do, but I know you’ll do just fine.”
She turned over on her side and pulled him closer. For a moment, La Cour allowed himself to focus only on his wife, before he realized he’d need to hurry. He had quite far to go.
When he was finished in the bathroom, he walked up the stairs to Fischer’s little flat upstairs, and knocked on the door, pondering his earlier question. He still wasn’t sure how much his new colleagues knew about him and Fischer.
Slightly muffled, his lover’s voice came through the door.
“Come on in. It’s open. I won’t be a minute.”
La Cour stepped inside. There was a smell of coffee in the little kitchen. He heard the sound of an electric shaver from inside the bathroom and walked in that direction. Fischer was standing over the washstand, shaving, only wearing his shorts.
La Cour moved closer and put his arms around his lover. Fischer leaned into him, but went on shaving. When he was finished, he put down the shaver, unplugged it and pulled off the cover on top. He shook out the stubble into the washstand, opened the tap and washed it away, then put the shaver and the cord into the bathroom cabinet.
He turned and kissed La Cour lightly. After a while, he pushed his lover away, groaning faintly.
“There’s no time. Marie called me about half an hour ago. I assume she got hold of you too?”
“Yes. I was just wondering – ”
“She wants you and me to take this case. I was wondering if maybe she suspects smoething.”
“I don’t think so, but you’re the one who’s psychic or whatever it is.”
La Cour smiled at the description.
“You make it sound like I’m an old fortune-teller.”
The comparison made Fischer smile too.
“So you haven’t sensed anything?”
“No. I thought IP was the only one who knew. And Ingrid, but I still don’t know how much she’s involved in our group.”
“Me neither. Have you eaten?”
“No, I was going to ask if you wanted to join us downstairs.”
“I don’t think we have time for that. Have a cup of coffee and then we’ll grab something on the way.”
In the end, they didn’t stop on the way to the hotel. Recalling the breakfasts at the Faber, they decided to order something there instead.
When the officers walked in, Julie Faber was behind the reception desk. Normally, she’d be working a little behind the scenes, but now that Maria was gone, she had to pitch in where she was needed. Her mother had promised to relieve her after a while.
Though the two officers had been professional and discreet, when Jimmy’s old cellmate had shown up and taken her and Jimmy prisoner, seeing them again made Julie pale slightly. They reminded her of the dreadful moments she’d been in that Viktor’s hands. She and Jimmy. And Viktor had been going to –
But she didn’t have time to have some kind of breakdown now. They really didn’t have time for anything but work at the moment. Besides, she could hardly be impolite to the officers, now that they’d come to investigate their mystery guests. Especially since they’d saved her and Jimmy.
“Hello. Have those guests made an appearance today?”
“No, not for a few days. Will you be needing rooms?”
La Cour and Fischer exchanged a look that made Julies radar go off, but her face didn’t change expression.
“I don’t know. Perhaps it might look less suspicious, since we’ll need to spend some time here. If there are any rooms available?”
Julie’s hands moved automatically across the keyboard, while she was scanning the screen. Yes. They were pretty much booked solid, but there should be two single rooms available. They had a few ‘spare’ rooms, they tried to hold back, unless it wasn’t completely necessary. None of them were in such bad condition they couldn’t be used by guests, but they weren’t quite as comfortable as most of the others.
“Yes. We have some on the floor above theirs, if that’s alright?”
“Don’t you have any on the same floor?”
Julie considered. There was a double room that wasn’t booked until next month. It was a slightly more luxurious room, which they usually offered to newlyweds and VIP:s, but why not? She smiled inwardly. Maybe now she’d be able to read something into their reaction.
“There’s a double room almost straight across from it.”
One of them nodded. Fischer, that was his name. Hot. Almost looked a little dangerous. Older than Jimmy, but definitely attractive.
“That’s fine. Both of us don’t really need to spend the night here. We can take turns. It will give you a chance to go home to Helene and the children.”
“We can take turns, like you said. Every other night or so.”
They were good at masking their emotions, but Julie didn’t think she was wrong about the relationship. The question was, how mrs La Cour – Helene – fit into the picture. Were they sharing her? Was she merely a sort of front? Or – didn’t she know what her husband was doing behind her back? Interesting, but in a way, it was a shame Fischer was taken. Of course, she had Jimmy.
“Can we get you anything? Did you have breakfast?”
“No, maybe we can do that here.”
“Of course. You remember where the breakfast room is?”
After breakfast Julie escorted them upstairs. After carefully surveying the hallway, making sure they were alone, she unlocked the door and let them take a quick look inside the room. It was empty. She stepped aside to let them in, but La Cour declined. He’d already seen enough and they couldn’t risk the weapons dealers being warned off.
Fischer nodded too.
“Thanks, that will do for now.”
Julie locked the door again and showed them to the room they’d be sharing. She thought she could sense a slightly embarrassed reaction to the room’s size and the look of it. It was so clearly a honeymoon suite, though strictly speaking it wasn’t a suite. That was on another floor.
She handed over the key.
“There you go. If there’s anything you need, just call me, and we’ll have someone deliver it for you.”
“If this drags on, or if the suspects return, we’ll need reinforcements. This room looks spacious enough, so maybe we can all use it? There’s a table and so on.”
“Of course. How many of you are you expecting? There are no other rooms on this floor, but like I mentioned before, on the next floor -”
“Probably two more, but that depends a little. We’ll let you know. If it will be necessary. For all we know, they might simply have left the country.”
“Right. I see. Have a pleasant stay.”
Afterwards, on her way downstairs, she regretted those last words. It might have sounded as if she was dropping hints and she definitely hadn’t meant it that way. The words had just popped out automatically, since she always had an polite, impersonal phrase on her tongue, whenever she was dealing with guests.
Downstairs in the lobby, Julie caught sight of the girl who had been behaving so strangely in the past couple of days. It actually looked as if she was keeping an eye out for someone. Momentarily, Julie considered returning upstairs and reporting it to the police. But the girl was so young and she certainly didn’t look like a criminal. Rather a little confused. She was blonde and slight and the look in her eyes was intense, almost obsessed. In a way it reminded her a little of John’s eyes. Julie shook her head. She wasn’t going to start imagining things. But when she went behind the reception desk, the girl approached.
“May I speak to the manager?”
Julie hesitated. Strictly speaking she was one of the managers and so was her mother, but she assumed the girl meant Adam.
“What’s this about? Perhaps I could -”
“No, I have to speak to the manager. Adam Faber.”
“Oh. Well. Just a moment.”
She turned and knocked on the door into Adam’s office. Usually, she didn’t do that, unless Adam was in a meeting or was making an important phone call. Too late she realized that she might have been able to call Adam on the phone. When she turned, she realized that the girl had followed her in behind the counter. It was off limits for guests and Julie opened her mouth to tell the girl, but Adam opened the door and she fell silent.
“Adam – this guest wanted to speak to you -”
“Lotte Möller. Could I -”
She pushed past Julie and into the office.
Adam glanced inquiringly at Julie who shrugged and made a face at her brother. He too, shrugged, and followed the girl inside. He left the door open, hoping that whatever this was about, it would be quick.
“Right. What can I do for you?”
But the girl didn’t seem to have any intention of stating her business. Instead she glanced around the office, looking perfectly at ease. By the time she sat down and fired a smile at him, Adam had had time to become nervous. He studied her doubtfully.
“Is there a problem?”
“My room – there’s something – if you could come with me, I’ll show you.”
“I’ll call the caretaker and he’ll help you.”
Adam couldn’t help smiling at the thought of John and this odd girl together. He was wondering what she’d make of their befuddled old employee.
“No. You have to come with me.”
She looked as if she couln’t possibly accept anything else.
“You see, it’s the caretaker who – or perhaps one of the cleaners -”
Amina would be able to sort this out, and make the girl get to whatever it was she wanted.
But the girl shook her head.
“Come upstairs with me and I’ll show you what it is.”
There didn’t seem to be anything else for it. Clearly, she wouldn’t settle for less than his taking a look at whatever it was she wasn’t happy about.
She hurried ahead of him towards the door. When he passed the reception desk, he made a face at his sister, one that clearly told her how he felt about running around, changing towels or whatever this would turn out to be about.
Upstairs in her room, however, the girl showed no indication of wanting to show him anything, except the bed. She sat down on the edge of it and smiled again. By now, Adam had had just about enough. His skin was crawling. He was the manager. This really wasn’t part of his work description.
“Well, what’s the matter?”
She patted a spot on the covers. At first Adam didn’t understand, then he walked closer and felt the spot where the girl’s hand had rested.
“So, what am I supposed to be feeling?”
“Sit down. Or preferably lie down. There’s a spring sticking up and it hurts my back.”
That couldn’t be right. They examined the mattresses regularly. If one was damaged or defective in some way, it was replaced immediately. Even so, he sat down and tried to find the faulty spring. He felt as if he was ten again, trying to bounce up and down, to determine where the broken spring was. As far as he could tell, there was nothing out of the ordinary.
“I can’t feel anything. Are you sure it’s this side of the bed?”
“Yes. Lie down and -”
Adam got up. This really wasn’t proper. He should go and get Julie or his mother or at least Amina. Besides, the girl didn’t move over. If anything, she seemed to have inched closer.
When she noticed that he wasn’t going to lie down, she too got up. She got in Adam’s way and seemed unwilling to let him go.
Adam forced himself to stay calm. Not something like this on top of everything else. Was there something about their hotel that attracted lunatics and criminals? Ever since Erik Faber had died one misfortune had followed the other. Perhaps they should have sold the place when that guy Jens suggested it.
The girl put her hand on his arm and seemed about to push him down onto the bed.
“You don’t need to go so soon, do you? Can’t you stay for a while and – keep me company?”
Suddenly Adam realized what she was doing and felt like a fool for not seeing it sooner. Of course. All that talk about how it had to be him and no one else, and her wanting him to lie down on the bed. But how could he have guessed that this girl who couldn’t be more than twenty or twenty-one, might be interested in him. Not him. Nikolai maybe, or Jimmy, but not him.
“Listen – Lotte – I have to go now. I’ll send for the caretaker or one of the cleaning staff and make sure they get you a new mattress.”
“No. Don’t go.”
She moved even closer, but this time Adam was ready for her, and slid past her, towards the door.
“It’s no trouble at all. If you wait here, they’ll see to the mattress.”
To his relief, she didn’t follow him into the hallway. How ridiculous. Nikolai would never let him live this down, if he ever found out. He’d better just tell his mother and Julie.
Malene packed the last few things into the bag and handed it over to Patrik. It was the first time they’d managed to get some time off together, and would be able to go away together over the weekend. Walid had offered to babysit Anna, but Malene hadn’t been able to bring herself to go away without her daughter.
Instead she’d suggested Walid join them at the hotel, but though her ex had smiled warmly and seemed to appreciate the offer, he’d turned it down. He must have realized he’d be the fifth wheel, as it were.
That was why they were now going down the stairs to the car she’d borrowed from her colleague Leo Zielinski. Leo had wished them good luck and smiled meaningfully, when Malene had told him why she needed the car. He really was something of a character, but Malene had realized that Leo was also a good person deep down, despite his seemingly carefree and provocative manner.
He was also one of the few colleagues at the law firm who actually treated Patrik and Walid with respect. When Mikael Frank had agreed to employ Walid as an assistent, CC had opposed his decision. Mikael wasn’t all that happy about the arrangement himself, but he had seen giving Malene’s ex a steady job as a necessity. Maybe now he’d stay away from his criminal friends.
“How did you find this Hotel Faber?”
Patrik glanced at Malene in the rearview mirror. She was keeping a watchful eye on her daughter. Anna seemed to be sleeping quietly, and hopefully she wouldn’t begin to cry, because if she did, she could keep it up for a long time.
“I represented them once. A tax case. Nothing very interesting, but lengthy and complicated enough. I visited the hotel, and spoke to the manager – the former manager Erik Faber – at the time. That was a couple of years ago. He’s dead and the widow and their children are running the place now.”
Patrik nodded, while he surveyed the traffic attentively.
Malene leaned back in the seat and found that she really had been able to put the job out of her mind. It was nice to finally be able to relax and focus on her family. She and Patrik and little Anna would have a relaxing weekend together. The way she remembered the hotel, it was quiet and comfortable.
“It’s a very nice place and I’ve heard it has an interesting history too.”
Patrik smiled at Malene who met his gaze in the rearview mirror. He wasn’t all that interested in history; what really mattered to him was Malene’s happiness. A mini-cruise to Sweden or a weekend trip to Germany, or anything at all, would have done, as far as he was concerned. As long as the two of them were able to spend time together, it didn’t really matter where they went.
The young woman behind the reception desk smiled welcomingly as they were checking in.
“Malene Bork and Patrik Larsen. Room 311. There you go. Your key. And you have a baby, is that right?”
Malene glanced down at her daughter who was sleeping peacefully in the baby carrier.
“I hope you’ll like it here. If you need anything, just let us know and we’ll have it sent up to your room.”
“Thank you very much.”
Malene liked the room from the start. It was spacious and the windows faced the square in front of the hotel. The backyard might have been quieter, but this looked nicer. She put the baby carrier on the bed and made sure they had everything they needed. Nothing seemed to be missing.
Patrik put his arms around her and put his cheek next to hers.
“You like it here?”
“Yes, what about you?”
“It’s cosy. How about a nap for us too?”
“Anna will be waking up soon. I thought we could go for a walk.”
“Ok. Sounds nice.”
He liked the hotel too. It was as different from his usual scene as you could get. No one out here could guess what his background was and that suited him fine.
Fischer punched in the number for his superior, Marie Wied. He was wondering if she’d consider it worthwhile to continue the stakeout. So far the weapons dealers hadn’t appeared, and he couldn’t help thinking that they might be put to better use somewhere else.
“No, nothing new yet, but Adam Faber told me they’d called and asked them to keep the room ready for them for a while longer. Thomas is at home for a while, with Helene and the children. We hardly need any backup yet.”
“I can see that, but – we don’t have anything more important to do right now, and I told Michael and Ditte to join you there. Nazim, IP and I can manage without you for a while. This has the highest priority. We don’t have any other leads and – well, you know. If you nail them, we’ll be able to stop all the illegal weapons coming in from Russia, all in one bust.”
“Right. Ok, then I’ll be expecting the others.”
“Good. I’ll send you some photos what you can show to the staff. Provided, of course, that they’re reliable.”
“I’ll make my report to Ingrid Dahl later today. She too considers this a top priority.”
Lately, Fischer had begun to sense that IP and Ingrid might be a bit closer than he’d ever guessed in the past. That was pretty unexpected, but he saw no reason those two couldn’t be happy together. As far as he could tell, that thing with Jan Boysen had only been temporary. Boysen would never commit himself.
“I’ve had my lunch now. Aren’t you going to get something to eat too, Adam?”
Julie studied her brother anxiously. It didn’t look as if he was getting enough sleep and lately it had seemed as if he wasn’t eating enough either. Worrying over Maria seemed to have drained him. Suddenly, she was filled with irritation towards her sister-in-law. Of course she could understand that the fertility problems were hard on Maria, but to put Adam through this – This hurt him as much it did her.
Adam didn’t even seem to hear her voice. Julie put her hand on his arm and at last he looked up and met her gaze.
“Go on, have something to eat. I’ll take over now.”
“No, it’s alright. I’m not hungry.”
“When did you last have anything?”
The vague look in Adam’s eyes gave Julie the impression he couldn’t even remember. Surely it hadn’t been their so called working breakfast two days ago, when she, her mother and both brothers had had a meeting while they were eating in one of the smaller rooms?
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about me. I just need to get this done, so -”
“No, it can wait. Is it something about Maria that you’re not telling me?”
Adam rubbed his eyes, that looked red from the lack of sleep or something else. In the end, he seemed to come to a decision. He looked embarrassed, but still deeply concerned.
“Well, it’s like this – you don’t think she’s done something – I mean – I can’t get through to her and her parents aren’t telling me where she is – What if something’s wrong?”
“You mean if she’s done something to harm herself?”
It was clear that this was exactly what Adam had been getting at. Julie hadn’t even thought of that, until now. She didn’t think that was the case, but this explained why Adam was so terribly worried about his wife.
“I really don’t think so. Besides, her parents would be far more worried if they believed it was possible. She’s gone away to be on her own, or she’s there, but doesn’t feel up to talking right now. You did say she was depressed? Talking might be a bit too much for her.”
“Maybe. But – I have to know.”
Briefly, Julie put her arms around Adam.
“I’ll talk to them. Maybe they’ll tell me how she’s doing, so you won’t have to worry so much.”
“No, don’t. I’ll have another go, but I do appreciate you -”
He was almost blushing. Adam could be so sweet sometimes. Julie smiled encouragingly.
“Don’t dwell on it. You’ll see, it will be alright.”
Adam forced a smile, and for once it reached his eyes. He really was fond of his sister.
Julie went straight to the kitchen and had a word with Lasse, the cook. He had Jimmy make a very nice lunch for Adam and told him to deliver it to his office.
Lasse winked conspiratorially at Julie.
“I was thinking if he gets it from you, he might make trouble, but Jimmy answers to me so he can hardly refuse to accept the food.”
“Good thinking, Lasse. Thanks. And thank you, Jimmy, for giving me a hand.”
“Always happy to oblige. Anything to please the boss.”
Jimmy smiled at Julie too, but the look in his eyes didn’t say what Lasse’s did.
To Julie’s relief, Jimmy reported that Adam had seemed resigned to his fate and he’d actually sat down and enjoyed his meal. She’d try to make her mother order Adam to take a day or two off and get a good night’s sleep too. He could do that here, at the hotel, so they could easily get hold of him in a crisis. Not there would be, but they could always tell Adam that, if only he agreed to have some rest.
When Ditte and Michael showed up, Fischer returned home for a while, to change and pack some things he’d forgotten. He promised he’d be back soon. Ditte didn’t seem to suspect anything and Michael appeared slightly absent. Fischer had heard something about Michael being involved in a shooting incident and had almost been fired, but fortunately, their new supeiror, Marie, with Ingrid Dahl’s support, had managed to put a stop to that. Even so, the boy might be dwelling miserably on that. In any case, Fischer had enough on his plate with his own life at the moment.
Michael suggested they sit down in one of the dining rooms. Julie Faber had promised she’d let them know if the suspects showed up again.
They were having tea, when another couple entered. The woman was carrying a little girl. Ditte smiled at the infant. Her mother returned the smile and sat down at the next table.
She seemed to be considering something, then turned in Ditte’s direction.
“Excuse me. Don’t we know each other? You look familiar.”
Ditte studied her more closely. Yes, there was something familiar about the other woman. Then it hit her. It was a lawyer she’d met in court a few times. Malene something. This was awkward. She really shouldn’t give herself away. She and the others were here under cover, as it were. Still, a lawyer should recognize the need for disrection, if necessary. Besides, cops needed vacations too.
“Yes, I think we’ve met in court a few times.”
Malene nodded, but still hesitated a little.
“Are you a lawyer?”
“Oh. Now I remember. Ditte -?”
“Hansen. This is – a friend of mine, Michael Kristensen.”
At the last moment, Ditte changed her mind. She had meant to say colleague, but if she’d used that word, Malene – whatever her name was – might begin to wonder.
Malene smiled and held out her hand.
“Malene Bork. This is my – friend – Patrik Larsen, and my daughter, Anna.”
Ditte shook Malene’s hand and Michael did the same. Patrik sat down and held out his hand as well.
The two couples found that they got along well, and before long they were discussing children and other topics. They didn’t mention work at all, and that was just as well, as far as Ditte was concerned.
When Fischer returned he had brought La Cour. They sat down in the bar and had a beer. If only Nazim and IP had been present, they could have had a poker night. After the new colleagues had joined the team, the men had begun to meet over the weekends on occasion. Somtimes the women joined them, but usually they were busy elsewhere.
This particular night, La Cour and Fischer found themselvers discussing the possible relationship between IP and Ingrid Dahl. They both found rather unlikely, but there were signs that hinted in that direction.
They ended up staying until quite late, before going up to their room and around nine the phone woke them. Sleepily, La Cour fumbled for the phone which was on the bedside table.
“Julie Faber here. Your two friends have just picked up their key and are on their way upstairs. I just thought you’d like to know. They don’t seem to be in any particular hurry, so I assume they’re here to stay for a while.”
Fischer rolled over on his side and watched his lover through half closed lids, smiling faintly.
“What was that about?”
“The suspects are back. Heading up to their room. Perhaps we should -”
“Is it urgent?”
“Not at all, but I just thought -”
“We’ll get some breakfast first, right?”
They didn’t move. La Cour turned and returned the gaze in Fischer’s slightly slanted eyes. He reached out and touched Fischer’s face. Fischer grabbed the hand and brought it to his mouth. He pressed his lips to it and they agreed that they could wait a while before they made their report to Ditte and Michael.
The rest of the day, the four of them took turns keeping an eye and an ear out towards the corridor. Except during the meals, they stayed in the room – Fischer’s and La Cour’s room – to be available if anything happened inside the suspects’ room.
Towards evening, the two weapons dealers received a visitor. Fischer decided to call for Nazim and IP. these two dealers were known for being heavily armed during their assignments.
Nazim must have broken all speed limits and he and IP showed up long before their colleagues had expected them.
Michael and Ditte stayed in the room, while Michael connected to the wireless network the hotel offered. Throughout the entire operation, he’d be in contact with Marie at headquarters. To his surprise, he found that Ingrid Dahl was visiting and would be observing the operation. That information he and Ditte kept to themselves. Other than that, they forwarded all orders Marie gave them to the little bluetooth headsets their colleagues had been provided with.
For a while, the raid went beyond their expectations, until one of the men managed to get past the officers and disappeared up the stairs.
La Cour followed him, and Nazim wasn’t far behind. Fischer, with the help of Michael and Ditte kept the other two suspects under control. Reinforcements were on their way from the local police station.
Julie had decided to keep Adam ignorant of the how the case developped. She just wanted her brother to rest and try to forget his concern about his missing wife. That meant Adam wasn’t prepared for the noise breaking out on the floor below the room where he was trying to get some sleep. Just like his sister had feared, he hadn’t had more than two hours of sleep in the past four nights, so when the altercation broke out, he’d almost fallen asleep.
He was on his feet again and outside in the corridor, before he’d even considered what was happening. It was his hotel. Of course he’d investigate what was going on.
He was already on his way down the stairs, when he realized that he was heading into the corridor he always tried to avoid. It was on this floor his father – stepfather – or whatever Erik Faber was to him – had hung himself. No matter what Adam tried to tell his mother and sister, all that made him ill at ease. The first few weeks after the death – that had occurred on his wedding day – he hadn’t been able to sleep a whole night without being tormented by nightmares.
Momentarily, he was afraid nothing untoward was going on, and that this was simply another example of the hotel’s many odd noises and other phenomena. Then he caught sight of a man running, further up the corridor, then one and finally two others who appeared to be following the first man.
Indignantly, Adam opened his mouth to ask what they thought they were doing, when he became aware of several things at once. First, he recognized the second man. It was the police officer who had been staying at the hotel with his wife, children and a colleague, and who had managed to save Julie and Jimmy from that guy Viktor.
Adam slowed down a little. La Cour was a police officer. That could hardly mean anything other than that the first man was one of the suspects the police had been interested in. What mainly made Adam lose his focus was seeing the man take refuge in the room where Erik Faber had killed himself.
Adam frowned. That door shouldn’t be unlocked. Most of the time it wasn’t used at all, for reasons he’d rather not consider too closely. In any case, it shouldn’t be unlocked. Someone must have made a mistake.
It bothered him, but the worst part was that though it had been several years since the incident, it made Adam just as ill at ease as the day it happened. He paled and found it hard to force himself on.
La Cour had reached the door and very cautiously he pressed himself to the wall to the right of it. He waited for his colleague – a relatively short, swarthy man, with a shaved head. They performed something that looked like a well practiced ritual. It reminded Adam of American cop series. An expression out of one of those series occurred to him. They were securing the room. That had to mean that the suspect was potentially dangerous.
Adam struggled to make his mind work again. Shouldn’t they try to evacuate the floor? Or at least warn the guests they had to stay in their rooms for the time being. He fumbled for his mobile phone. If he rang Julie or his mother they would be able to –
He watched the police officers catiously open the door, and aim their guns into the room. The suspect had hit a dead end. Adam could only imagine that in his desperation, he might barricade himself in there and the whole thing would escalate into a shooting drama. Here at his hotel. That couldn’t be allowed to happen.
Slowly he began to walk again, but stopped almost right away. There was nothing he could do. He just had to hope that the police would be able to apprehend the suspect before things got out of hand.
In the end, that was what happened, but first Adam saw something that made his hair stand on end.
La Cour slowly backed out of the room, tense and clearly in shock. Adam first thought was that the man somehow had managed to get his hands on La Cour’s weapon and was now aiming it at him. But no criminal appeared. The shorter officer glanced wonderingly at his colleague, then entered the room in his stead.
Adam caught a glimpse of La Cour’s face. It was tense and drained of all colour. The man looked sick. What had he seen inside that room?
Almost immediately, the dark police officer brought the suspect out, handcuffed and subdued. The whole thing had ended peacefully, without one single shot fired. Apparently, the criminal hadn’t been armed, after all. So what had La Cour seen? Adam’s throat constricted and he swallowed repeateadly, but his mouth was still dry and he shivered, though at the moment, the heating worked flawlessly, for once.
Since the criminal was out of the way, Adam reluctantly approached the door into what had been his parents’ bedroom before the suicide, forcing himself to look into the room.
Slowly, his heartrate began to return to normal. There was nothing to see. Just an empty, unused room. The only thing out of the ordinary was an overturned chair, nothing else. But something must have frightened La Cour.
Adam hesitated. Strictly speaking, he should put everything back in order, but it was hard to make himself do that. Usually, John handled that sort of thing, and the cleaning staff that had been around since those days, for instance Amina, Nikolai’s ex, didn’t have to enter it.
Adam couldn’t free himself from the absurd idea that somehow La Cour had seen Eriks Faber’s ghost, perhaps swinging from the ceiling, like he had on that day. If so – Adam couldn’t repress the idea – would he know if Maria was dead? If she too, had taken her own life, just like her father-in-law had, on her wedding day?
In the end, Adam managed to repress the ridiculous impulse. He turned to face the police officer, inquiringly.
“Are you alright?”
By now, La Cour’s face was beginning to regain its natural colour.
“Yes, I’m alright. We’re done here now. As soon as our uniformed colleagues arrive, and they should be here any minute now, we’ll take the suspects away. Once again, thanks for your cooperation.”
“I see. Excellent.”
“Of course there will be certain formalities. Perhaps we’d better keep our rooms overnight. If that’s alright with you? It’s getting late and we have our procedures.”
La Cour nodded at him and began walking towards the attic. Adam tried to tell himself that there was nothing to fear inside that room and that naturally he, the manager, had to check if everything was in order and turn out the lights and lock the door.
Someone was coming. He managed to repress his reaction and forced himself to glance over his shoulder, seemingly unconcerned.
John. How did the old man know everything that was happening at the hotel? It was bloody strange. Besides, there was that thing about him and Erik Faber –
“Would you like me to set everything in order in there and turn out the lights and lock the door?”
“Yes, please, John. That would be wonderful. I -”
Adam nodded towards the stairs. It was a relief not to have to go in there, after all. Fortunately, John was good at dealing with things like that. Besides, the memories didn’t seem to bother him, not like they did his mother and – if he was being completely honest – himself.
John nodded and disappeared into the room.
The formalities took far longer than Julie had expected. The policemen – the ones in uniform – were as discreet as could be expected, but they remained in and around the foyer for at least four hours, and the others, that she realized must be of a higher rank, didn’t show any signs of being about to call it a night.
After having made sure that the remaining uniformed police officers were served coffee and sandwiches, Julie was beginning to wonder if Adam might have missed the entire incident. She’d been hoping he would, but she’d hardly believed it possible. She decided to risk waking him to tell him what had happened. Adam would be furious if she kept something this important from him.
She went into the office and shut the door behind her. Her mother had agreed to go to bed. Nikolai was somewhere out there, studying the spectacle with a great deal of interest. In many ways, her younger brother was still little more than a kid.
She lifted the receiver and punched in Adam’s number, first the one for the room he was staying in, then his mobile. No reply on either. Julie frowned. Had Adam taken a sleeping pill? If so, she couldn’t blame him.
Even so, she began to feel vaguely concerned. She left the offine, switching off the light and locking the door behind her. Suddenly John materialised right next to her. Not again. He was looking as mysterious as only John could.
The old man put a hand on Julie’s arm, gazing pleadingly at her.
“Something is wrong. The hotel -”
“I know what’s happened, but it’s alright. The police have taken the criminals away. It’s nothing to worry about, John. You can go to bed again.”
“No, it’s something else.”
“I don’t know, but – something is going to happen.”
Julie swore under her breath. Maybe they should try to get John to see a doctor. They might not be doing him a favour by letting his delusions continue unchecked.
“Thanks, John. I’ll keep my eyes open.”
In a strange way, she meant it too and it seemed to satisfy John. He walked away, but Julie got the impression he wasn’t going to bed yet. Besides, that was his business.
He was barely out of sight, when the phone behind the reception desk rang. The night porter picked up the receiver. A frightened expression spread across the young woman’s face. She handed the receiver to Julie, who accepted it, filled with foreboding.
“Yes? Julie Faber.”
When she’d heard what the person had to say, all colour drained from Julie’s face and she felt weak. Not this too. Could it be connected to the upheaval earlier in the evening?
“I see. We’ll call an ambulance. I’ll be right up -”
She broke off, when she realized that there were still at least two police officers in the hotel. Fischer was still talking to a portly man, a bit older than himself. She hurried over to them.
“Excuse me – a guest just called and told me she and her husband had found another guest with a stab wound.”
Instantly, Fischer grew alert. He sent his colleague to fetch their other colleagues, who apparently still remained in the hotel, then joined Julie in the lift.
“Have you called an ambulance?”
“Do you know who it is? The victim, I mean.”
“Yes, apparently it’s a young woman who – she’s shown an rather exaggerated interest in my brother.”
“Where was she found?”
“In the corridor.”
“On her floor?”
“No, now that you mention it, I did find it odd that she was on a different floor.”
When the other policemen had joined them, the paramedics had arrived too. Julie retreated a few steps to let the professionals take over. The thought of Adam had made her worry again. She called his room again and then the mobile. Still no reply.
She couldn’t wait any longer, she had to see for herself that Adam was alright. Outside his room she stopped and took a deep breath, then knocked on the door. No reply. She knocked again, but didn’t wait for a reply. All members of the staff had skeleton keys and she merely unlocked the door and entered.
To her distress, Adam’s bed was empty and a quick look into the bathroom told her he wasn’t there either. She turned and ran down the stairs. Helplessly, she looked around. Her eyes fell on the female police officer she’d seen earlier with a younger, incredibly good-looking man.
“Excuse me. I have to speak to you -”
“Of course. Ditte Hansen.”
“Julie Faber. It’s about my brother. He’s gone missing. I’ve rang his room several times and the mobile too, but he didn’t answer. So I went up to his room and he wasn’t there. I’m beginning to wonder if it might be something to do with that girl.”
“Did your brother and the victim have anything to do with each other?”
“Yes – it’s a little embarrassing, but – she seemed almost obsessed with Adam. She had some ridiculous excuse to get him to come up to her room, and there – it turned out she just wanted – well, in any case, that’s why i was thinking -”
“I see. Your brother lives here at the hotel?”
“No, not really, but his wife is – away and – he’s staying here temporarily.”
“But he has his own place? Have you called him there?”
Julie hadn’t thought of that. If something about Maria had occurred to him, he might have –
“You’re right. I should try there too. Just a moment.”
She rang Adam’s home number, but the brief sense of relief vanished again, when no one picked up.
Ditte watched the young hotel manager. She was clearly worried about her brother. That made Ditte wonder about the wife who was ‘away’ and the girl who had been stalking Adam Faber. If the girl hadn’t been found badly wounded, she would almost have suspected her to be involved with the disappearance. Or – perhaps that wasn’t entirely inconceivable – that Adam Faber had taken his own life in desperation over his failed marriage. Of course, it was far more likely that he’d gone off to try and patch things up with his wife. Besides, there were more possibilities, most of them completely innocent.
“Try not to worry too much. Most men who disappear turn out to have left voluntarily. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to send someone to check your brother’s home.”
“Yes, I’ll send my youngest brother or my boyfriend. Just a moment.”
Nikolai happened to be walking by just then so Julie called him over, for once utterly unconcerned about being discreet in front of the guests. At this hour, most of them would be sleeping anyway and the rest would be in the bar. Why wasn’t Nikolai there, come to think of it? Ignoring that, he sent him off to Adam’s house, but the female officer – Ditte Hansen – stopped him.
“My colleague Michael will go with you.”
When the two younger men had disappeared, Ditte began to discuss the disappearance with her remaining colleagues. They encouraged Julie Faber to try and remain calm and wait for the results of their investigations. She disappeared up the stairs, presumably to follow their advice.
The five remaining officers split up and began to search the hotel, using one of the skeleton keys. Julie had given them a list of which rooms were empty. If that search didn’t produce any result, they might have to wake the guests in the other rooms.
At an early stage, an older man showed up and introduced himself as the caretaker. When they’d searched all the areas that the guests had access to, he showed them the staff’s areas. They still didn’t find anything suspicious nor a trace of the missing hotel manager.
When they returned to the ground floor, Julie Faber and her mother, Alice Faber were there. It wasn’t long until Michael and Nikolai Faber showed up again. They hadn’t found anything in Adam Faber’s house. No one seemed to have been there for at least a few days.
By now, Jimmy, Julie’s boyfriend, had joined the people who anxiously searched for the missing hotel manager.
La Cour turned to the caretaker, who was studying him strangely searchingly.
“Are there any other areas that we haven’t searched yet? Other than the occupied rooms.”
“There are the cellars, of course.”
“I see. Is there an attic as well?”
John, the caretaker, nodded reflectively.
“Yes, that too. I’ll show you.”
Ditte remained on the first floor, doing her best to calm Adam’s family. Eventually, she called the hospital and inquired about the injured girl’s condition. It turned out that while her condition was still listed as serious, it seemed she would pull through, though it would be a long time until she regained consciousness.
John led them up several stairs into an insignificant-looking stretch of corridor, ending in a low door that looked old. He unlocked it and walked ahead of them up the narrow steps leading the rest of the way. He unlocked another door and vanished inside. It was a while until the lights came on.
La Cour blinked and for a second, he thought he saw a young man standing by a small, round window. He looked – blood was running down his face, which was deathly pale and the eyes –
La Cour began to shiver uncontrollably and IP who was right behind him, bumped into him. IP apologized, but it was clear that La Cour couldn’t hear him.
“Are you alright?”
IP noticed that John, the caretaker, was staring at the same part of the room as La Cour.
Nazim and Michael had stayed behind, at the bottom of the last steps, but Fischer had followed his colleagues all the way up.
The room was spacious and the ceiling went all the way up to the rafters. It was a beautiful room, and with light coming through the small, rounded windows, it would be even prettier. Though there was all kinds of junk up there, among other things, what looked like furniture covered with sheets, and broken mirrors and lamps, there was a relatively unobstructed view all the way to the other end of the room. There were no dividing walls. The room seemed to stretch all the way across the building. There were plenty of spaces where someone might have hidden, but nothing seemed to have been moved. A thick layer of dust covered the floor and no one seemed to have been here for years.
Fischer turned to face La Cour again and despite IP’s presence, he dared to put his hand on his lover’s shoulder.
“No one seems to be here, right?”
“What? No. I don’t think so. Shall we go downstairs?”
They returned downstairs again. That just left the cellars. They turned out to be divided into several smaller rooms, and a few bigger ones.
Something flickered before La Cour’s eyes, and suddenly he saw a woman in her mid thirties standing over a seemingly immobile man – unconscious? – and there was no doubt this was the missing hotel manager – a hammer in her hand. She kept glancing at the door, which was behind her, tense and abnormally alert. He saw the door fall into the room and – as they were watching – the woman repeatedly hitting Adam’s head. Blood and –
The vision faded when he heard a familiar voice say his name.
“Are you really alright, Thomas? Perhaps you should sit down for a while? Or – was it one of your visions?”
IP. La Cour took a deep breath and turned to face his colleague.
“I think they’re in there.”
He pointed at a door at the far end of the low, narrow, badly lit corridor they were in.
“But – we must be extremely careful. Pull your weapons. You – you’d better wait outside.”
He turned and faced the caretaker, pointing at the outer cellars. The older man nodded, or rather bowed lightly and vanished so silently and quickly, it almost seemed unreal. La Cour too, pulled his gun, though like Ditte and Michael, he preferred to handle most situations using his judgment, not superior fire power.
“I think – we might have to fire. I don’t think this woman can be reasoned with.”
The disbelief in Nazim’s voice made La Cour smile. Nazim was more prepared to face weapons dealers, drug dealers and potential terrorists.
“Yes, I think we’ll find it’s a stalker. An admirer who hasn’t felt appreciated enough.”
Nazim nodded. Of course his colleague was right. A woman on her own could be just as dangerous as a man in some situations. In his youth, he’d been more than familiar with female suicide bombers.
He and Fischer went in first, leaving Michael and La Cour to bring up the rear. If Nazim had had his way, Michael wouldn’t have been with them at all. It was obvious that Michael still wasn’t comfortable carrying a weapon. But to tell his younger colleague to retreat would only hurt his feelings. Better to just focus on the job.
The door was old and it fell easily to their joint assault. Just as La Cour had predicted, a woman was standing above the immobile man, who was lying on the floor, face down. A dark stain below his left ear hinted that he’d been knocked unconscious, perhaps with the hammer the woman had raised above his head.
She was screaming incoherently and the look in her eyes confirmed La Cour’s prediction about her mental condition. His intuition was almost frightening. Perhaps it was a feminine personality trait, something that corresponded to the baffling rumour that he had a sexual relationship with Fischer. Nazim would never have been able to guess that. Perhaps La Cour, even if that too, had seemed unlikely, but definitely not Fischer. On the other hand, most people would hardly have been able to guess at Hallgrim’s secrets either.
“No. He’s mine. She – that blonde little – here the woman spat expletives, so garbled they couldn’t decipher the words – thought she could have him, but – you’re not going to stop me – Nothing will keep us apart. Nothing.”
She turned away from them and raised the hand in which she held the hammer and it was clear that any second now, she’d break her prisoner’s skull.
Nazim didn’t hesitate. He had shot – even killed – women before. That was something he’d rather forget – but when the circumstances required it, he was prepared to do what had to be done. Just as he fired off the first shot, he heard another gun go off. Fischer’s, he guessed, but he didn’t dare to turn.
His bullet hit the woman’s shoulder. The pain and the force of the impact made her drop the hammer. It hit the prone man’s back and landed on the floor at the woman’s feet. The second bullet seemed to hit her other arm and she sank to the floor, still bent over her prisoner. The hammer was too close to risk her getting her hands on it again.
Fischer moved quickly and lithely as a cat. He kicked the hammer into a corner and pushed the woman aside, and onto the floor. She screamed even louder and more piercingly this time and it was clear that despite her confusion, she was in a great deal of pain.
It was hardly surprising. Nazim had been shot on several occasions and each time it hurt more than he remembered from before.
La Cour bent over the unconscious man, pressing his fingers to his neck. The pulse seemed comparatively normal, considering. He studied the lump and the wound on the back of his head. The skull wasn’t fractured, he guessed. There was just a sizable lump and a shallow wound. If that was all, he’d most likely be alright.
Fischer and Nazim escorted the woman out of the room.
La Cour turned and faced Michael.
“Would you go up and wait for the paramedics? Oh, and call it in. I’ll wait here with the victim.”
“Ok. Can I let his family come and see him?”
“No, just tell them that he seems to be alright, all things considered.”
Michael nodded and left the room.
To La Cour’s relief, he didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary. Or – now that the thought had occurred to him, he thought he heard a sound that wasn’t unlike gregorian chants. If so, it was hardly a song with lyrics. It was more of a humming or droning. Barely had he finished the thought when the lights flickered. It was over so quickly, he was tempted to conclude that he’d only imagined it.
Other than that, nothing happened. He wasn’t ill at ease, and sensed no unnerving presence. A sudden noise from the corridor made him stare, but it was only Fischer returning.
“How is he?”
“I don’t think it’s too bad. Have a look.”
La Cour pointed at the back of the man’s head.
“There might be something else, but I don’t think we should move him.”
“No, we’d better not. The ambulance will be here any time. It was a bit tricky, trying to keep the sister from coming down to see him. The mother was able to calm down a little, but not Julie. Ditte suggested she look after her mother and that did it. But what about you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You saw something tonight, didn’t you? Up there, in the attic, and maybe earlier too. You’re so pale. IP pointed it out just a moment ago, and I agree.”
La Cour made a face.
“Don’t ask. It seems the hotel has a rather – motley past.”
“I can imagine. But at least you’re ok?”
“Yes. I’m fine.”
“Oh, by the way, Julie thought she recognized the woman. She was staying here a few months ago, and then again last week. They hadn’t noticed anything odd about her.”
La Cour nodded. Now that the tension left him, he was beginning to get homesick. He missed Helene and the children, and simply being in their own house. No matter what he’d told Fischer he’d had enough of this place. There were too many memories between these walls.
Once again they were kept busy with red tape, but considering the late hour, and the fact that the abductee had been taken to the hospital, they were able to finish off a little sooner than earlier this evening – or rather tonight. It was morning, La Cour noted when he and Fischer got into their car to return home. They ignored Nazim’s and Michael’s wondering gazes. All their colleagues knew that Fischer was renting a few rooms from them. Whatever other conclusions they drew from that, they tried to ignore.
Julie and Alice sat beside Adam’s bed, waiting for him to regain consciousness. The police officers had been right. Adam wasn’t badly injured. The doctors had said that at best, he wouldn’t have sustained a concussion, but they’d keep him for a few days for observation, just to be on the safe side.
Nikolai had been entrusted with the responsiblity for the hotel in their absence. The youngest of the Fabers seemed to appreciate the task. In any case he hadn’t looked quite as concerned about his brother, as the women.
When the nurse looked in a moment later, Alice asked her about her son’s condition.
“When can we expect him to come to?”
“Soon. Everything seems to be fine, but you’d better ask the doctor later on.”
Alice breathed a sigh of relief. She had begun to fear that she’d lost her eldest son. That was something she never hoped to experience again. At least Julie seemed to have calmed down.
It wasn’t long until they heard Adam mumble something in his sleep and he began to move about restlessly. Shortly afterwards, he opened his eyes.
Alice bent over her son, stroking his cheek.
“How do you feel?”
Adam frowned, trying to remember what had happened. Why was he lying here and above all, why was his mother and sister looking at him as if – Then he remembered the room where Erik Faber had hung himself. The police officer who had looked terrified of something he’d seen inside the room, when there hadn’t been anything to see.
He had been on his way back to his room when – That woman – there had been something peculiar about her, it seemed to him now. She had seemed – wired somehow. Excited. Overly so, even. And she’d – asked him to come to her room. Something about it had reminded Adam of the morfifying episode with that girl the other day, but he hadn’t felt he could refuse. Besides, it had been a grown woman and she’d hardly have –
Except there in the lift she must have – Automatically, he touched the back of his head. He had a headache and the pain was located there. Had she hit him? He remembered that she’d pressed the button for one of the higher floors. Something hadn’t felt right and he’d glanced at – But his mother had asked him a question and he’d better answer.
“Well, I guess I’m – more or less alright.”
“Are you dizzy or sick?”
He considered. No, neither. His head hurt, that was all. Nothing really remarkable.
“Someone knocked you out. The police found you in the cellars.”
“In the cellars? How strange. There was something odd about her, that – Margrete something. The one who was staying here a few months ago and then – well, at the hotel.”
Julie got up and bent over him. She’d be making a fuss again. Girls always wanted to pat your cheek and all that. But Julie was ok, really. Quite cool for a sister, actually. So he shouldn’t complain.
But Julie’s reaction made Adam begin to worry about what really happened. What had that woman wanted with him anyway? He shifted about, ill at ease. Had she felt the same way about him as that girl must have? Then – but no, surely he’d have noticed something like that? Besides, he’d been unconscious the whole time. Surely she couldn’t have –
“Oh, right, Nikolai told me that Maria called you back last night. It was just before – I almost forgot to tell you that the girl, you know, the one who -”
The memory made Adam blush. Clearly Julie hadn’t forgotten about that. So that woman too, must have – how bizarre. Who could have guessed that he was so – attractive – to them. The mental cases. Very flattering. Then he realized what Julie had told him. Maria –
“What did Maria say? How was she?”
“She was fine, but – she wants to spend some time on her own. She doesn’t want to discuss what happened, not yet. She was hoping you’d understand.”
He’d have to. The last miscarriage had hit her very hard, he knew that. At least it was a relief she wasn’t – How stupid of him to even consider that superstitious nonsense. Maybe he was as overworked as Julie kept telling him. Better let her have her way then. He might as well take a few days off, now that he had to.
“Yes, of course.”
He closed his eyes and Julie’s conscience struck her. Adam needed to rest and she should be getting home, back to work and to Jimmy.
She got up and gave her mother a hug, then kissed Adam’s cheek. It annoyed him, but that was rather sweet, and she’d been worried about him tonight. The thought of losing him had been terrifying.
“I’ll go home now, mum, Adam. Stay as long as you like, and I’ll see to the hotel.”
Alice hugged her daughter and put her hand on her son’s. It was simply wonderful, just looking at him. He was alright. Whatever happened to his marriage, he’d be alright.
When Julie returned, the police officers were gone, all of them. Nikolai told her they’d checked out and everything was more or less back to normal again.
“They called about that girl, the one who’d been stabbed. She’s going to make it. And she said – Ditte Hansen, I think her name was – that she wanted to book a room for her and the boyfriend next weekend. We seem to have one available then, so I made a preliminary booking. Check it out, will you. I’m no expert at that kind of thing.”
“Sure. Do you know where Jimmy is?”
“In the kitchen, of course. He refused to go home. I told him I’d send you in there as soon as you got back.”
“Thanks. The day shift should be here by now, so you can go to bed. Is someone watching the bar for you?”
“We’re not going to open just yet, so I’ll handle it. What about Adam. Was he ok?”
“Yes, he’ll be fine. How did Maria sound?”
“Exhausted. As if she’d been crying, but pretty calm anyway. She said hello to you and mum.”
“Oh. The poor thing. Maybe I should become one of those surrogates. Should be worth a shot anyway. At least if Adam hadn’t been so stubborn.”
“Surrogate? I’ll be -. Maybe Amina would like to make a buck?”
Julie laughed. She doubted Nikolai was serious. Besides, this kind of thing should be handled within the family. They couldn’t ask Amina to make such a sacrifice for a colleague. Not even the boss’ wife.
“You’re raving. You’d better go to bed.”
“I will. So do you.”
“Yes, but I can’t. I’ll see how it goes, after lunch. Now beat it, kid.”
Julie really felt worn out, but she’d check with Lasse in the kitchen first. If she asked him nicely, maybe he’d let Jimmy go home and get some rest.
She was on her way to the kitchen when John appeared right by her shoulder, as was his habit, so silently it almost made her jump out of her skin.
“Yes? What is it, John?”
“The hotel is content. It’s over now.”
Julie almost shook her head, but smiled instead. John could be sweet too. He wasn’t always this weird.
“That’s good. Thanks. Aren’t you going to bed?”
“I have work to do.”
He turned and walked away at a pace you wouldn’t think possible of a man that age.
Anyway, no matter how strange he was, Julie had a feeling that this time he was right. Things felt quieter now. Though maybe that was just because she was so exhausted. Maybe she and Jimmy would sleep for a few hours after all. Then she’d try to get as much as possible done, before Adam returned. She would make sure he had enough rest. Especially considering what had happened tonight.
Still, it was funny how two different women had become in fatuated with him in such a short time. That ought to show him what an attractive guy he was. If Maria didn’t return, there were other women. Adam really was quite cute, even if he was her little brother.