The Woman in Red: 33. Questions about Frau Bertha
‘How do we deal with Frau Bertha?’ Jean-Pierre asked when they were having breakfast with Cecile. Cecile had listened with amazement to their adventures with Monsieur Charles. She laughed very warmly when she heard how they had tricked him into finding the tape. Jean-Pierre received again a compliment for his bright idea to take a copy of it.
Katarina concealed a yawn behind her hand. She shrugged. ‘Actually, I don’t know very well. We can hardly play it the same way as with our first victim. I don’t know if Monsieur Charles will keep her informed, but we can’t afford not to take it into account.
‘Who is she, what does she do? Does she have weak points?’ Jean-Pierre had acquired a taste for a next adventure after their luck with the first tape. Obviously he didn’t realize the dangers it could bring along.
Cecile, who watched them, intervened the conversation for a moment. ‘Haven’t you said once, Katarina, that she is crazy about horses? Don’t you know where you can find a young, hot stallion?’ Cecile clearly thought she had told a good joke because the fun lights in her eyes couldn’t deceive it.
‘Well, there you have something.’ Katarina answered and looked at Jean-Pierre.
‘Oh, no, no way,’ he replied protesting. ‘I know…’ He wanted to say that he knew on which horses Frau Bertha liked to ride. But he could restrain himself from saying it. ‘I don’t think I’ve got the capacities to make a pass at that woman, Kat.’
Katarina looked at him with a mysterious glance upon her face. ‘Maybe you don’t have to seduce her. I know that she on the evening with the quartet was…’ She waited a few seconds and Jean-Pierre blushed as an overripe tomato, ‘That she was very fond of you!’
Jean-Pierre breathed again. Did she know what that Frau had done to him on that specific evening? Maybe, maybe not. He had to be more cooperative, besides Katarina had also sacrificed herself at Monsieur Charles’, he suddenly thought. Yes, that was very unfair to her. ‘Okay, Kat, what do you mean, what should I do?’
‘Of course I don’t know how she will react, but if we went to visit her then I suppose she will not make a secret of her admiration for you. I know she is like that. But will she take you into her confidence like our hypnotist has done? I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that she has a soft spot for young people, especially men. You’re young, and you’re a man.’ She bit her lip, a gesture of despair. ‘Let me make an appointment. I’ll tell her that I want to discuss your future with her to get her opinion. If she doesn’t buy that, then I don’t know it anymore.’
She instantly began to push a number upon her mobile. A few seconds later she had already Frau Bertha on the other side of the line. ‘Hello, Madam Hofmeister. How are you?’ Jean-Pierre and Katarina didn’t hear the answer, but looking at Katarina’s face it was certainly not bad. ‘May I make you a proposition? I’ve taken care of the training of our newest member in our organization… oh, I hear you still remember him. Well, I would like to have the opinion of a professional, I’ve always had a great admiration for your point of view in these matters. What do you think about a meeting at noon tomorrow, so we can combine business with pleasure? What do you say?’
Jean-Pierre and Cecile saw Katarina pulling her eyes wide open and smile. ‘Agreed,’ was her short answer on something Frau Bertha said on the other side of the line. She ended the conversation and looked relieved. ‘The appointment is made. First, we will dine together and afterward… well, we’ll see what happens then.’
Jean-Pierre looked a bit dismayed. He wasn’t very reassured. ‘Okay, we are so far that we’ll be there with her. But then… how will we try to get hold of that tape?’
‘Well, Jean-Pierre, I don’t know either. During the conversation, we’ll have to bring the subject onto the tape in one way or another. Maybe we can let her believe we know about the tapes through my mother. That we agree that it is a good initiative or something like that. We can get more from the carrot than from the stick. If we have a bit of luck, she goes along and tells us more about it. Let’s hope it in any case.’
‘Isn’t she the wife of a German minister? I was under the impression she had told me that or am I wrong?’
Katarina looked at him questioning. ‘Yes, that’s right, but what do you mean by that?’
‘Is she important enough to have a bodyguard? We'll have to watch carefully if that's the case. Those people take their mission very seriously and when they see a threat, well…’ He left his sentence open, but Katarina and Cecile understood what he wanted to explain.
‘I think we just have to take our chances,’ Katarina reacted.
Cecile, encouraging, patted Jean-Pierre on his back. ‘Good luck… stallion.’