Anika woke up by an unfamiliar smell in her nostrils. She reached out for the light switch but couldn’t find it. “Damn it, where is it?“, she wondered as her eyes adjusted slowly to the darkness around her. But in vain! “I can’t see anything!”, she felt a light sense of panic raising up in her body as she used her hands to orientate herself. The fabric of the bed sheets felt unfamiliar soft. “Where am I?“, she asked herself hastily, wondering if that could really be her own apartment. Finally, her right index finger discovered something. A cold but smooth plastic like surface. The cheap clicking sound made it clear, at least it couldn’t be Eduard’s place.
Even though a complete year has gone, she could still remember every detail as if it would have been only yesterday. The organic shaped designer furnitures, the soft carpets underneath her bare foot and the wide open windows with the most spectacular view on the city center. One year ago, she woke up in a similar way. An unfamiliar smell of the room, the softness of the bedsheets underneath her naked body and the sheer endless size of the bed. It was the one Christmas Eve she would never forget. After breakfast he had driven Anika back to her car and said goodbye. She had thanked him for everything and went straight home to her parents house, telling them all about what had happened. “Ok, not everything!“, she remembered. She may have missed out on some parts, especially the ones at Eduard’s place. “What a gentleman he was!“, she sighed, looking at the empty bed side next to her.
She felt still unfamiliar with her new apartment. But living on her own was the only logical next step. When she had finally moved out of her best friends apartment two weeks ago, she experienced mixed feelings about it. On the one hand she felt relieved about having her own place now, but on the other hand this very fact made her stomach ache. Standing on her own feet? Was she even ready for that? The offer caught her by surprise, but how could she say no to a place like this?
After she had given Michael a second chance, she realized quickly that it was in vain. She didn’t felt the same way as before. It was over. When she had left him in early spring, Anika was ready for a change. The next day she had called her boss and quit. “You did what?“, her mum’s voice was still ringing in her ears today. “I can’t do this any longer! I am sorry, but I can’t!“, she had responded angrily and went upstairs into her old room, shutting the doors as loudly as she could. God she felt ashamed about moving back into her parents house, but it was just for a couple of weeks, or at least that was what she had told herself over and over again. Her friend Kathrin offered her to move into her place, but Anika knew that she was just feeling lonely during the weeks when her boyfriend wasn’t in town. The attention wasn’t even the thing that would have bothered her, it was the confrontation with Kathrin’s perfect relationship she was afraid of.
“The time is flying, unbelievable!“, she told herself while getting dressed. Anika loved her new apartment. It was one of her new boss’s past projects and once he had offered it to her for such a reasonable price, she couldn’t resist. “How is that even possible?“, she had stared into his deep brown eyes that morning. “The owner is afraid about renting it to someone he doesn’t know! As simple as that!“, he responded coldly. “But he doesn’t know me after all!”. That was a good point, but of course he knew her boss. A trustworthy middle aged man running “the” architecture and design studio in town. “Just take the damn apartment before I change my mind!“, he had replied at last, waving her out of his corner office.
It was an early Christmas present and she loved it! Two weeks ago she could finally move in. Kathrin’s boyfriends mini van was a great support, even though she had insisted on not needing it after all. Her parents couldn’t believe it. A 180 square meter apartment in the best area of the city with a view, breathtaking. The modern furniture, the huge living room, the open kitchen and a dinning table for a whole soccer team. “This place is amazing!“, she heard her mothers voice from one of the guest bedrooms to her left. “And the rent is really just 700€? I can’t believe it!“, her dad asked in surprise. “It’s a long story!“, she tried to change the topic.
“Ready for work?“, she checked herself in the mirror. “Not that it would make any difference.“, she added with a smile, taking her handbag and walked towards the door. She was one of the few people who would still physically go there. “Why going there when I can work from home in my pajamas?“, her new colleague joked during one of the coffee breaks. Anika needed the inspiration which only the workplace environment could offer. “You life in one of our God damn projects, for Christs sake! How much more environment do you need?“, her colleague had answered. It was a good point, but the office was still her preferred place to go. And since the government had increased the COVID-19 rules in Germany, she could work there even longer without anybody distracting her.
THE END OF PART I
It all started as a regular Monday morning. Eduard got up at 6 am and followed his usual morning routine. Half an hour of intensive workout in the home gym before a short meditation session under the shower. The sun was already shining brightly through the curtains when he was preparing a lunch box for the day. His new kitchen was a bit smaller both in size and equipment, but he loved the simplicity of his new place. It was his uncles old family house, or at least what was left after 20 years of abandonment. It took them three years for the rebuild, but after looking at the house today, it was worth every penny. Eduard always dreamed about owning a place like this. “A house in the middle of know where!“, his mother recollected correctly. And indeed, the house offered everything he was visualizing in the past. No neighbors for miles and only one main road that lead to the property. There was a second path crossing the area from the forest behind, but it was only for off-road vehicles and therefore could hardly be counted. After a double gated entrance and an s-shaped gravel path up the hill, the old barren next to the farm house got reinvented for the car storage place. Eduard never liked expensive looking houses and tried everything he could to let the house appear as average as possible, at least from the outside.
Driving to his office would have been the next thing on the agenda, but today was a special day. His employees couldn’t believe it when he told them weeks ago about his plans. “Closing the company down for four consecutive weeks?“, they wondered. “We all deserve some time off!“, he had announced proudly. “But what was going on with their boss?“, they were shocked. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that this must have been a hell of a year. The economy hadn’t flourished as promised and there where bottlenecks everywhere up and down the supply chains. It was a disaster! But after the new COVID-19 related rules got introduced, Eduard felt supported to turn his plan into action. He had changed a lot during the last year and they all knew that the business trips to Dubai played a big part in that.
It had all started with this conference in early spring. He had met a promising new customer who made an offer he couldn’t reject. One lead to another and before he noticed, he was traveling back and forth between Germany and the Middle East on a weekly basis. It had been on one of those business trips when he had met her. A tall young woman with a breathtaking CV. He had been too shy to walk over and say something like “Hi!“, but the fact that he couldn’t put his eyes off her blonde long hair might have revealed his intensions.
She was used to the looks that men would give her, but she hardly met a guy like him. “Why isn’t he just coming over to me, bragging about his most successful business life? God, I wish he would just come over!“, she bite herself on the lip the second day she saw him. “No, this guy was different!”, she could feel it. “Ok, the fact that he was literally staring at her was suspicious, but how could such an innocent looking face belong to a creep? It couldn’t!”
“My name is Victoria!“, she watched her hand reaching out to him proudly. “What are you doing?“, she asked herself in panic, trying to pull her hand away as fast as possible and pretending that nothing had happened after all. “Muscle memory!“, he had replied in perfect English, not appearing to be shy after all. “Was this all just a misinterpretation of things? Didn’t he simply came over because he was a happily married guy?“, thousands of thoughts shot through her mind as he added. “I am Eduard, by the way!” It gave her enough time to rearrange her thoughts. “Nice to meet you!“, she had responded quickly, trying to stop her mind from using one of those pick up lines on him, men would usually try on her. But the pick up lines weren’t even necessary. The small chat in the bar lead to a deeper conversation in the hotel lobby. Which on the next day got even extended into their regular evening activity for the next three nights before she left the Middle East again.
Eduard really liked her. Every time he read her name on his phone, his hearth was beating faster. It wasn’t a new feeling to him, but he didn’t remember how good it actually felt. They were texting back and forth ever since until he received the last message.
“Hey Eduard 🙂 I hope everything is good? You will not believe it, but I will fly to Frankfurt next Friday! I have to attend a conference there! I asked my boss if I could add some days off and enjoy Germany and she said yes! My first time in Germany! 🍺🇩🇪 Do you show me around?”
“Are you kidding me? Of course I will!“, he had replied a bit too fast for his taste, but he wasn’t even caring about that any longer. “I will pick you up in Frankfurt!“, he had insisted a couple of days later when their plans got more serious. “If you insist!“, she had replied ironically, knowing too good that a trip by train would have become a nightmare due to the new COVID-19 rules. “Blue or grey?“, he had asked her at last. “Blue!“, her American voice responded quickly. “Wise choice! Wise choice!“, he had said and hung up on her.
“Today was the day! Finally!“, Eduard didn’t needed his phone to get reminded of that. Minutes later the Porsche engine screamed enthusiastically into life as the wide tires were searching for traction in the lousy gravel underneath.
THE END OF PART II
“Come to my office, NOW!“, her boss’s voice appeared in the hallway the moment she entered the workspace. “Am I too late? What is going on? What did I do wrong?“, Anika tried desperately to figure what her boss could be mad about. “Was it the unsatisfied customer from last Friday? Had he really called her boss because of that? She had promised to update the drafts first thing in the morning!” A mixture of panic and worries entered her thoughts. “Would this already be it? Her dream job bursting into flames?” She reached his office in a hurry. “Anika, please, have a seat, we have to talk!“, his voice felt even more angrily now that she could see the expression on his face. “I know! I am sorry!“, she was about to keep on going, when she discovered a little hint in his angry face. “I am listening!“, her boss continued, but he wouldn’t be able to keep up the charade for long. “Oh my God, you really got me!“, she joined in the laugh of her boss. “I am sorry, but I couldn’t resist!“
“Is he trying to flirt with me? Is this all a part of a game? His game? Or our game?“, Anika liked the idea about him flirting with her. “But putting all jokes aside, we really have to talk, Anika!“, he added quickly. “We have a new project! And God does it fit perfect to you!” “Another project?“, Anika’s mind went nuts. “Who the hell does he think that he is? How are we supposed to do all of the projects?” “Before you say anything! Shara will take over all of your current projects. I need you to focus on this, 24/7!“
A new project. She din’t even know what to think about that. She liked her current projects. They were fantastic! “What could be so important that Shara would take over all of her projects?” Eagerly she went back to her computer. “God damn it, why does it take so long to start?” ,Anika stared at the computer screen as if that would make it any faster. “Why couldn’t he just show me the project in his office?“, Anika tapped her fingers nervously onto the wooden desk. “Have I missed something?“, one of her colleagues commented from the back. “Anika got a new project!“, another one answered. “Can you all just shut up!?“, Anika replied with a laugh, not daring to look away from the screen.
“Finally!“, Anika’s heart beat started racing. “Why does this make me so nervous?“, she asked herself in bewilderment, thinking back at the time at university when they were all eagerly waiting for the results to show up online. He had send her an e-mail with the information. Somewhere in the chaos of her inbox it must be. A woman called Susan Lay. “Where are you, Susan? Where are you!“, she was scrolling up and down the inbox, flying over one subject line after the other. “Ah, there you are!” A double click would finally relieve her from the pain. As the message got opened in a new window, Anika slit to the front of her desk chair and began to read.
“It’s here in town!“, she had discovered the address happily. She never enjoyed having projects which were located far away. It wasn’t the traveling that struck her, but the exhausting Autobahn drives. She continued reading. The customer asked for an entire redecoration. “Finally!“, Anika started to understand why her boss wanted her for the job. “The price doesn’t seem to matter!“, she continued to scroll through the document. “Is this a joke?“, for the first time Anika dared to put her eyes off the screen, waiting for anyone to jump out from their hiding places and laugh about her thinking this was a real project, but nothing happened. Anika continued to focus on the document. “Even the floor plan is attached. Wow! This sounds too good to be true!“, Anika couldn’t believe it. As the apartment extended itself on the floor plan on her screen, her feelings suddenly changed. An elevator entrance, two floors, a wide open living room. This place looked familiar. After she had seen the pictures underneath, it was clear. It was Eduards place! “Eduard!“, her inner voice said softly.
They texted a lot after what had happened last Christmas and even talked on the phone quite regular. But somehow they must have lost themselves in their meaningless conversations. As Eduard started to fly regularly into a different time zone the conversations suddenly stopped. And the texting, well, their interest dried out slowly but steadily. She didn’t want to loose him, but had other issues to focus on. For example Michael and he wasn’t ok with her texting with him after all. “What has happened to Eduard?“, Anika woke up from her day dream. “What was going on? Had he sold the penthouse suite? Was his company bankrupt?” In panic she googled the companies name, looking for any clues that could confirm her theory. “Nothing!” She opened the companies website. “Again, nothing! But who would write such sensitive information on his website? Nobody, of course!“, she just hoped that Eduard was fine. Then, another thought entered her mind. “Was this Eduard after all? Had he figured out where she was working and now made this fake offer under a wrong name to win her over? Was this all apart of his plan to reach out to her again?“, Anika couldn’t prevent a smile from occurring on her face. “Is this Eduard’s way of being romantic?“, Anika fought back and forth about which story she should believe in. “But why would he use a fake name. No! This couldn’t be Eduard! He wouldn’t do something like that! Besides … “, a cold shiver went down her spine. “Besides this woman was Eduard’s new girlfriend!” It made click. “This would be it! A Christmas surprise! Had he not only lay down to her feet, but also promised to change the whole apartment for her.” God, Anika wished she would be her, this Susan Lay. “How she might look like?“, she asked herself, imagining a blonde Victoria Secret angel. She must be pretty, smart and successful! Everything Anika wasn’t. She was just an average girl! A girl from the country side.
Anika continued reading. “Mandatory changes.” A roof top pool, a sauna, and a large wardrobe appeared in her imagination. “All the gadgets a 21st century instagram model would need.“, she told herself and read through the list. “A stair lift, a ramp for the steps in the living room and wider doors?“, Anika wasn’t expecting that. The theory of the blonde angel bursted in her head. “Who was Eduard going to live with? His grandmother?“. Anika couldn’t prevent to start laughing again. “Who are you?“, Anika wondered eagerly, opening the browser and typing in the name. “Susan Lay. 1.540.000 hits in 1,24 seconds. A well deserved retirement, an exclusive interview with the former head of Lay & Partner.” Susan Lay was indeed a blonde successful woman. But at least forty years too old for Eduard. Anika’s mind went crazy again. So he had sold the apartment? Was she right? The company shut down, the Porsche’s gone? As she was driving home late that night with only one thing in mind, Eduard.
THE END OF PART III
Victoria slipped deep into the leather covered sports seats. She never would have believed that they make it on time. It was Eduard’s usual race against the navigation system and of course he had won. “Men!“, Victoria thought as she watched him smiling in triumph. He had beaten the time by at least 25 minutes, which was impressive considering the short distance they had traveled. Did she liked it? Yes, she did. She had never thought that the shy guy from the bar in Dubai would chase after record times in his free time. She really had enjoyed the thrill, but was happy that the city center was in sight now.
“Was that too much for her already? Have I destroyed all of my chances? What was I thinking, racing through the night like this?“, Eduard criticized himself heavily. “Why can’t you behave like a normal person? Just this one time?” As the turbos finally cooled down in the fresh night air of the city outskirts, Eduard thought about a change of his strategy.
“I really like this place!“, Victoria looked right and left like a little child in a toy store. “Wow! So many old buildings!“, they drove by the most famous building in town. He had told her about the history of it, but she wasn’t even listening. She was just trying to absorb it all. “What a stunning building!“, they went by the tallest building in the area. “I lived there right underneath the clouds!“, Eduard was pointing to the heaven. “But I sold it after moving to the country side again this year. The city life isn’t for me!“, he had added with a smile. “Was that a joke?“, Victoria looked puzzled back at the stunning building above in the sky and wondered. “Was he really living up there in the highest penthouse suite in town?“
“Was that even necessary? Bragging about your penthouse times?“, Eduard continued to criticize himself. “But I guess you must be really tired by now? Do you want to call it day and do the other things tomorrow?“, he had asked her in a soft voice, trying to look over to her side. “Eyes in front!“, she had demanded quickly, but this made it even more tempting to take the risk and have another glimpse of her beautiful face. “It was an exhausting day, you are right! But we are not yet done with today’s agenda!“, her voice made it even sound a bit sexy. “She was right!“, Eduard thought. On the list were still three items to tick. Having a walk nearby the river, the house tour and of course her first time driving a Porsche. How could he forget about that? “You are right!“, he had finally said. “Next stop, the river bank!“
It was a cold evening. The strong wind blew through her thin hair as they walked down the beautiful alley next to the river. The orange street lamps accentuated the atmosphere, causing the castle high above the city to appear even more powerful. Victoria really loved the city with its old buildings and the stories behind them. As he put his arm around her, she felt completely at home. “What a moment!“, she thought, leaning right into him.
“What are you doing!“, Eduard’s mind tried to interfere before it was too late. But it already was too late. To his surprise, she had not only accepted his arm wrapping tightly around her, no, she did even lean right into it. “A lucky shot!“, he tried to prevent himself from taking the next step too early. As they walked by small cafe’s and shops they got instantly reminded about the situation happening all around the globe. Were once flourishing cafes had populated the city center, they could now look into empty buildings. Closed, for sale, just a couple of them seemed to have survived.
“It’s your turn!”, Victoria could hear him saying proudly as he opened the door for her. “My turn?“, her inner voice was trembling. “Are you sure?”, she asked him a last time before taking a seat. “Don’t worry, I have another Porsche in case something goes wrong!”, he had replied with a hint of irony in his voice. “Be gentle with her!“, he added, but was talking to the car.
As she turned the ignition key with her left hand, Victoria wasn’t ready for the angry shout of the flat six boxer engine from behind. “Don’t panic!“, she told herself. “You can do that! Just pretend that it is a normal car and for Christs sake don’t destroy it!“, Victorias mind added quickly as she was putting the car into reverse and backed out of the car park.
THE END OF PART IV
The city center wasn’t as crowded as usual when she had reached one of the few traffic lights on her way back home late at night. It must have been already quite late, but she didn’t care. After receiving her new project in the morning, she had dived so deep into it, she even forgot to take a break. Loosing track of time was her new usual. “When was the last time you had stopped working in time?“, she was wondering as she watched the traffic crossing the road in front of her.
Victoria touched the brake pedal a bit too enthusiastically and forced the car into sudden stand still. “Sorry!“, she petted the leather covered steering wheel softly. She had survived the first meters through the late night city traffic, from now on it could only get better. “The brakes are a bit pointy, but you will get used to it!“, he remarked calmly, ignoring the urge to tell her all about the expensive carbon ceramics brakes the car was equipped with. “Just don’t destroy his most favorite car!“, Victoria told herself and watched the traffic light.
She never had an interest in cars, but even she enjoyed a good looking example from time to time. As the silhouette of a sports car appeared in her visual field, she couldn’t resist and took a glimpse. The red traffic light gloomed brightly on the cars bonnet as she tried to follow the accentuated lines of the Porsche’s exterior design. “This must be a Porsche!“, she realized as Eduard sprang back into her mind. “Wasn’t he owning a car like this?“, she tried to remember but wasn’t sure about it. “It couldn’t be Eduard’s!“, she noticed quickly. On the drivers seat was a stunning looking young woman. In fact, the woman appeared to be the exact doppelgänger of the Victoria Secret model she had imagined earlier. “What a nice looking car, it really suits her!“, her mind insisted on while Anika wondered if such a car would also fit into her new lifestyle now. Since her new job was better on nearly every level, her income had grown significantly. The only problem was that she worked so much, she couldn’t even spend her money.
As the silent night around her got interrupted by the growling sound of the sportscar next to her, Anika assumed that the traffic light had turned green and also drove off. She hadn’t particularly tried to get on speed quickly, but caught the Porsche already in second gear. “At least she is not driving like those other jerks she usually saw in those fancy cars!“, Anika thought as she overtook the sports car and turned into the right lane in front of the Porsche.
“You don’t have to be that gentle!“, Eduard commented as he watched her shimmering eyes scanning the road in front of them. “I hope nobody is recognizing me being in a Porsche below the speed limit!“, he added with a smile, trying to cover his face and making him as small as possible on the passenger seat. “Idiot!“, Victoria replied with a laugh as she changed into the left lane and accelerated. “Bravissimo!“, Eduard pretended to applaud and sat upright again. “Satisfied?“, Victoria risked a little glimpse. “Congratulations! You got the job! When can you start?“, Eduard touched her shoulder softly.
Anika couldn’t believe it! “Is the Porsche girl listening to my thoughts?” The moment Anika had finished embracing the girl for her calm driving style, the Porsche had changed into the left lane and accelerated heavily. It was the commentators faith she knew only too well from various TV sport series Michael had made her watch. A commentator would talk about a specific team or athlete and in the very next moment something dramatic happened to them. “Was this the very same effect?“, Anika wondered as the Porsche appeared for a split second of time in her left mirror.
Anika wasn’t as curious as her mother, who was usually watching the neighbors as if that would be her job, but she felt a sudden urge to take another glimpse of the woman, making sure she wasn’t a celebrity or someone famous she could tell Kathrin all about the next day. As the Porsche accelerated past her side window, Anika couldn’t believe her eyes. On the passenger seat was someone who looked familiar. “Eduard?”, her hearth beat started racing.
“This car is way too powerful!“, Victoria remarked as they were driving 20 above the speed limit already. “And this was not even 10 percent of its potential!“, Eduard added but agreed. “In the wrong hands this car can become a lethal weapon!“. Victoria’s mind tried to make sense out of that statement. “Either he must be trusting me with all he got, or he is a reckless fool.” Knowing Eduard for quite some time already, Victoria couldn’t prevent a smile from appearing on her full lips. “But I am only one out of many girls!“, Victoria reminded herself, focusing on the road in front of her. “I am surprised how calm you are! Aren’t you afraid about something going wrong?“, Victoria finally found enough courage to ask. “Actually, I am far away from being calm!“, Eduard answered honestly and added with a smile. “And there is still the Autobahn section in front of us!“
Victoria thought about making a comment about racing against the navigation system again, but didn’t told him. “The thing is this, I am just a very bad passenger! I always was!“, he added and took another look into the right mirror next to him.
“Could this really be true?“, Anika’s mind went nuts. “Was this really Eduard on the passenger seat?” “There is only one way to figure it out.” As Anika shifted down into the third gear, the French motorcar worked noticeable. The speed limit was the last thing on Anika’s mind as the car gained its momentum. She had successfully fought off the fine for crossing the red light last year and was still without any points in Flensburg. “Is it worth the outcome?“, the brave side of Anika’s mind took over. “You can also just call him or send him a short text message later on?“. “A text message? How creepy! Admitting that you have stalked him late at night in town? Come on! Just keep up with their pace! You nearly got them!“
Victoria’s driving style was calm and in control. Eduard could feel that she had already developed a sense for how to drive the 911. Besides, cruising through town wasn’t the most difficult task with an automatic car, he had to admit. Eduard allowed his thoughts to wander off, thinking back at the first time they had met. He still couldn’t believe the fact that she was finally here, sitting right next to him. A blonde angel. A blonde angel that could tame the Porsche beast. He really liked her, no, actually he was in love since the very first time he had seen her in that bar in Dubai. What a beautiful creature! How could he not falling for her?
As he turned his glance away from her perfect skin, his eyes caught a yellow light flickering in the right car mirror. “Someone is trying to get on our pace.“, Eduard thought while his right foot tried to execute a braking maneuver. But in vain. He was sitting on the passenger side after all.
“Just the last 50 meters!” Anika was surprised how fast she had been able to catch up with their pace. The moment she had looked onto the speedometer, she knew why. The Megane’s speed was above everything she might be able to walk away with her beautiful character, meaning her décolleté. But her mind didn’t even want to go there. Anika focused only on the blue car she was chasing after. Just a couple seconds and she would be able to have a second look.
“STOP! Victoria! BRAKE!“, Eduard insisted on heavily as she stepped onto the brake pedal with all her might. In a wild squeaking noise the front tires bite into the cold asphalt below. As Victoria’s hair shout straight into the direction of the wind screen, Eduard’s mind had put the information together. It must have been close to 2g which were pulling at his neck, as Victoria had released the brake pedal again.
Wuupppp. Anika shot past the Porsche as if it had hit an invisible wall. “What was that?“, she wondered as she could already see the sports car far behind in her rear view mirror.
“What the hell was that?”, Eduard couldn’t believe his recent actions. “Had he really yelled at Victoria as if there would have been a mother with her child standing right in the middle of the street? Of course Victoria was going to slam onto the brakes like she did! What were you thinking?” Eduard’s mind couldn’t believe it.
“Sorry!“, Victoria’s voice was trembling. In panic she had floored the brake pedal, causing the ABS to do its magic. “No! I am sorry!“, Eduard replied quickly as she was looking over into his guilty face. He had explained everything to her. That he had panicked and thought the police was chasing after them. Victoria was right awake now, but pretended that it wasn’t a big deal after all. She checked her mirrors and continued driving. Only this time she would stay within the speed limit under all circumstances, hoping that he would take over the Porsche any time soon.
“A white Renault.”, Eduard’s eyes zoomed in on the number plate ahead. “Could it be?” “However crazy that might sound.”, Eduard began his sentence and continued. “But we have to follow the white car over there. It’s a friend of mine I guess.“
“Oh dear God, no!“, Anika saw the Porsche changing into the lane behind her. “I told you so!“, Anika imagined the brave side of her mind responding. Her mission was exposed. “It must have been Eduard and he saw me.“, Anika gave in the urge to feel ashamed. “Now they would probably follow me to the next car park and he will introduce his most perfect girlfriend. Oh God why! Why couldn’t I just let them go? Why couldn’t I just let him go?“
“Who is it?“, Victoria asked in surprise, wondering that Eduard even knew people who obviously weren’t caring too much about the cars they were driving. The question seemed reasonable, looking at the heavily battered rear of the French car. “That’s a long story!“, Eduard replied after a short break, adding the short version of what had happened last year on Christmas Eve. “What a terrible story!“, Victoria felt bad for Anika without even knowing her. “But I haven’t talked with her in months.” “Are you ok about the little detour?” Eduard had broken the silence in the car once more. “Of course! I am pleased to meet “friends” of you!” “Friends!“, Eduard thought and repeated “Friends!“
THE END OF PART V
It was long after midnight when they called it a day. Besides the stunning apartment, Victoria guessed she knew what Eduard must have liked about Anika. The outskirts of the city rushed by the window as the car accelerated into the night ahead. “What a nice “friend” you have there!“, Victoria commented at last, emphasizing on the word friend. Eduard couldn’t prevent to smile. “He might haven’t even realized it!“, Victoria thought, because for her it was obvious right from the get go. The way Anika had looked at him. The body language had revealed her little secret. Invisible for men, maybe, but not for her trained eye. “Should I tell him? What will he make out of the information? Does he know? Or will he think that I am envy already?” Thousands of thoughts shot through her mind. “It’s better to say nothing, I guess.“, Victoria concluded and focused on the tree line next to the road again.
“What a day.“, Eduard’s mind tried to stay ahead of what had happened so far. Her English was a bit rusty, Eduard needed to admit, but how could he blame Anika. She had hardly any chance to use it in her daily life. After a short conversation at the car park, they had decided to shift the conversation over to her new place in town. It was breathtaking. He hadn’t expected a place like this when she said, “There is enough room for us three!” In Eduard’s mind, this hadn’t implied a 180 square meter designer apartment. Catching up with Anika felt good, even better than expected. Of course she was curious about his old penthouse suite and why he had sold it. But it was her new project at work and of course he was talking about his work all the time as well.
But Eduard realized that it wasn’t Anika that was on his mind any longer. No, his focus had shifted months ago. As soon as Victoria had come into his life, she had turned everything upside down. His mind was all over the place after he had meet her. What would his mother say about the age gap and language barrier? How should they meet? Would Anika move to Germany? There were too many questions still unanswered. “But tonight this doesn’t matter!“, Eduard was back in the present moment as the headlights were illuminating the world ahead of him. He knew that this was the right way to go. He just felt it. He won’t let her go!
Anika was caring their glasses back to the kitchen, when it struck her. Had she lost Eduard to this stunning girl from America? Had life given her this once in a life time opportunity and she had failed to win him over? Was it all over now? As Anika reached the kitchen table, she was ready to cry. Eduard seemed to be out of reach more than ever! Fighting? It wouldn’t make any difference. She couldn’t compete against Victoria. That girl was on a different level.
Anika fell into the soft leather couch, nearly spilling the cup of hot chocolate. At least she had figured out that Eduard was fine, even though she wasn’t expecting him to be that fine. Of course they hadn’t kissed in front of her, but Anika was sure they were a couple. She was driving his Porsche after all! She had tried to figure things out, though. Asked were they had met and things like that. But the answers she got weren’t really satisfying. How frustrating…
The roads got narrower, the villages they past through smaller. “Eduard, where are you driving me?“, Victoria had asked ironically before a clicking sound appeared in the cabin of the car. Eduard had pushed the central looking. Of course the car was already looked, but Victoria liked his kind of humor. “Idiot!“, she had replied in an instant, watching the center line of the road disappearing.
The small road seemed to end soon as the bends got tighter and windier. “Just up the hill and down into the valley!“, he had said, putting the car back into its normal mode. Victoria noticed the change instantly, the exhaust sound was gone. As the car was sailing down the other side of the hill, she saw it. Like a snake the illuminated path lead up to what appeared to be an old farmhouse.
“Exactly as imagined!“, Eduard still loved the experience of entering his new place late at night. The dark fence gave the property a military flavor. They passed through the first entry gate. “What might Victoria think about it?“, he had asked himself as the car stopped in front of the second gate.
“What the hell is that?“, Victoria couldn’t believe it. “Was she dreaming? Was this all just a dream?” The property was embraced by an at least three meter tall in-transparent fence. They had passed the first gate, when she noticed that this wasn’t the only gate after all. They entered an illuminated space which seemed to be somewhere between the fence. It was a narrow corridor that looked like a dead end. As Eduard stopped the Porsche and seemed to enjoy the process after all, Victoria noticed a movement in the right side mirror of the car. The gate was closing behind them. “Is this for real?“, Victoria had asked him. “Don’t you like it?” “Like it? Where are we? In a war zone?“
Eduard started smiling. Victoria had shown the exact reaction he wanted to get from his visitors when they tried to enter the property and met the double gated entrance. It had all started by a joke about once having something like that. But when the opportunity came, he couldn’t say no. Sometimes he even asked his visitors for a password or let them stand trapped in the narrow pathway for a little while.
The gravel path lead up the hill towards the building Victoria assumed to be the old farm house. But little did she knew about the space underground. “Welcome to my garage!“, Victoria was hearing as the gate of the barren next to the house opened electrically. “The garage?“, she had asked, but wasn’t ready for what came next. What appeared to be an old barren from the outside, was a cosy decorated man cave inside. Instead of cold floors and depressingly white walls, the space in front of her appeared to be a living room. A wooden floor, old leather couches and some book shelves and pictures hanging on the wall. “If that is only the garage, how might the actual house look like?“, Victoria wondered.
“Victoria deserves the complete package!“, Eduard had decided before closing the garage door behind them. While Victoria was wandering around the hall, looking at scale car models and books, Eduard got her stuff out of the car and into the left corner. “You can also go upstairs if you want to!“, Eduard had pointed to the stair case that lead up to a second floor. “This garage is impressive!“, she had said after coming back down. “Wait until you see the rest!“, Eduard thought but said nothing.
“Don’t we have to go outside?“, Victoria wondered as he was leading her towards the left side of the garage. “I know a shortcut!“, he had grinned back at her. A brightly lit passageway embraced itself in front of her tired eyes after they had went at least one story down underground. Expecting the light to come from the above, Victoria noticed that the lights had been placed inside the ground floor. It was a short walk, or at least it felt as though when the passageway suddenly opened up, guiding them into a bigger hall…
To be continued…
… next year
See you next time!