SEVEN - Günter
As soon as I close the door behind me, I ask the girl, “What is your name?”
Well, ask is a really tame word, because my voice has a definite snap to it. No matter. I am not in the frame of mind to be nice or gentle. No, I am furious. I am furious with her for putting me in this position. I don’t do impulsive. But I also do not leave women in the clutches of the likes of Fuchs.
A soft voice pulls me out of my thoughts. “Klara,” she says. I keep moving. I need to get out of here before Fuchs collects his wits and starts thinking for himself. Her small hand wiggles in mine, so I tighten my grip and keep going. “Can you please slow down, mein Herr?" she asks softly. I realise that with my long strides it be must hard for her to keep up. She just about reaches my shoulder and she is wearing heels. I slow down.
As soon as I step out, I order the valet to have Joachim bring my car around. He is there within minutes. I open the door and usher Klara in. She resists. She is too dainty for it to make any sense. I push her all the way in and climb inside after her, effectively blocking her way out.
“No. No, wait. My father...”
Joachim knows not to pay attention to anyone but me. He starts the car and we are off. I cannot relax yet, though. I need a plan to sort this mess up.
"Mein Herr,” she tries again.
“Günter,” I cut her off when I realise she does not know my name.
She looks at me, her beautiful moss green eyes full of confusion. She has very beautiful eyes.
“My name is Günter,” I repeat.
She seems to think about it for a while. I actually enjoy seeing her struggle with having to address me in such an intimate fashion. As colour rises up her cheeks, I now want to hear my name on her lips.
“I cannot go with you. My papa is back at the castle.” I see she has decided to take the easy way out. The little coward...I would have smiled if she had not spouted such nonsense.
“Out of the question,” I declare. She wants to argue, but I don’t give her the chance. “I have done what I can to help your family. You can now pray that Fuchs is confused enough to follow my orders. Nothing more.”
Her lips tremble and she clamps them together in an obvious effort to keep a hold of her emotions. As we exit the Matthias Gates, a shadow detaches itself from the shadows and starts following the car. She is too upset to notice. I am too busy planning my next step to notice. In hindsight, I can see how easy it must have been for him to follow the car. The roads were empty because of the curfew that Fuchs had declared and we had no more than a mile to go.
I realise that I am going to have to get Klara to tell me everything. Soon. Until I have the full picture from her side, I cannot decide what to do with her. I can see that she is very agitated. Understandable, given the night she has had so far. Both sides of her face are swollen and will bruise badly. The brute must’ve backhanded her. There’s a cut on her lower lip where blood has dried off. I want to groan out loud when I think of the mammoth problem I have riding next to me. She is going to require some sort of medical care for her face. At this point, I do not even know if she is hurt anywhere else. I am tempted to return her to her home. She’d be right back where I rescued her from if I did that though. So that’s a no go.
The rigid posture, the balled up fists, the face angling away from me, all spell resistance. I turn to face her and she pushes herself further into the car seat. There is nowhere to run for her. I slide a knuckle under her chin and turn her face up to look at me.
“Klara.” The name suits her, and I love saying it. “You can either come with me, or I can take you back home. But understand this, Fuchs may leave your family alone because of my threat. But he will not let you go. Choose wisely. I will not stand for hysterics after you have made your decision.”
Joachim parks at my spot when we get to the hotel. She lifts her chin away from my finger and opens the car door. I catch her arm, keeping her inside the car. She does not resist. She knows she does not stand a chance against my far superior strength. She relaxes back into the seat, draws a deep breath and says, “I will stay with you.” I know she is doing it to give her family the best chance of surviving this debacle. Nonetheless, I am happy she chooses to stay with me.
I instruct Joachim to be ready to leave in an hour. I need this time to make sure Klara’s injuries are taken care of. “Take your hair down,” I order her. I need to hide her injuries as much as I can so that she looks as ordinary as possible. Her eyes snap up to mine, the question evident in them. I am used to my men following my orders without question. This girl requires, no expects, an explanation for everything. Well, she will get used to my way very soon. I do not have the patience to explain to her that her hair will help hide her injuries. Instead, I slip my hand behind her head and start looking for the contraptions that are holding the whole thing up. She sighs and flicks my hand off of her hair. It’s for the best anyway. She is a lot more efficient than I am and soon her hair is cascading around her face. She has soft, luxuriant hair.
She finger combs her hair into something that makes sense to her and looks up at me. I nod, approving it, and step out of the car. By the time I reach her side, she is already out of the car. I take her hand and lead her inside the hotel. I stop at the reception, making sure she is largely hidden behind my much broader and taller frame.
“I will need a first aid kit, and some clothes fit for a short female,” I tell the concierge. The man has an oily smile. He tries to look at Klara, licks his lips, winks at me and says, “I will personally deliver it your suite Herzog von Hallerstein.” I want to throttle the man. I march Klara off to the paternoster and take her up my suite. She is very quiet. I realise that she must be scared, but am not sure how to ease her fears. The concierge comes up immediately after us and hands me the first aid kit as well as some form of female clothing. He is trying hard to peek inside the door to get a look at Klara, but I pack him off in short order.
After closing the door behind him, I turn around and say, “Sit on the bed there. I wish to look at your injuries.”
Once again, the contrary woman has an opinion. “I am a nurse. I can take care of this. If you can please show me to the bathroom?”
I simply point to the bed. She gets the idea, and sits down on the bed. I have look at her battered face, and am happy that I intervened when I did. The idiot would have ended up killing the girl. I clean her split lip, but there is nothing to be done for the bruised face. It will swell, turn colour and take its own time to fix. “Are there any other injuries?” I ask her. She shakes her head. I hand her the fresh clothes and tell her to get changed, “We will leave in about thirty minutes.”
As expected, she does not go into the bathroom to change as asked. No, she stands up and says, “Where are we going?”
I sigh and sit down on the bed. It is going to be a very, very long night!